The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) labor union’s members have voted 98.32% in favor of a strike authorization against 10 video game companies. The vote alone does not initiate a strike, but permits the union’s national board to declare a strike if ongoing negotiations are not successful.
The union began a vote for the strike authorization on September 5.
The union will resume negotiations with 10 video game companies regarding the Interactive Media Agreement, the union’s video game contract, on Tuesday. The union is negotiating with Activision Productions Inc.; Blindlight LLC; Disney Character Voices Inc.; Electronic Arts Productions Inc.; Epic Games, Inc.; Formosa Interactive LLC; Insomniac Games Inc.; Take 2 Productions Inc.; VoiceWorks Productions Inc.; and WB Games Inc. If negotiations fail, the SAG-AFTRA board may call a strike at any time.
In the announcement, SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland noted that the guild has already conducted five rounds of bargaining with the above companies, but the union’s demands have so far remained unfulfilled. The union is asking the companies for better working conditions and for an 11% increase in rates paid to video game performers, as well as protections from artificial intelligence posing a threat to the future of artists’ work and careers.
SAG-AFTRA’s last strike against major gaming companies began in 2016 and lasted 183 days.
The union’s current strike against film and scripted television productions began on July 14. According to the BBC, the strike has caused major worldwide disruptions to film and television productions
SAG-AFTRA represents over 160,000 performers—including voice actors—and negotiates contracts with studios to guarantee consistent pay, working conditions, contributions toward health insurance and a pension, and preferential casting for union members. SAG-AFTRA issued a “Do Not Work” notice in regards to Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai English dub (listed as “Dragon Quest: Legend of Dai”) in April 2022. In the wake of the Crunchyroll–Funimation merger, anime dub actors have highlighted the historical and ongoing under-representation of union dubs in the North American anime dubbing industry.
A separate strike from the Writers Guild of America started on May 2. In this strike, writers are demanding improved pay and working conditions, and limitations on the industry’s use of AI. The WGA reached a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on Sunday.