LOS ANGELES (July 15, 2011) – The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO – a national union of more than 70,000 performers, recording artists and broadcast professionals – today announced the ratification of a new agreement with videogame industry representatives on terms for a new 3 1/2 year AFTRA Interactive Media Agreement, covering AFTRA members who work in videogames. The previous contract expired on June 30, 2011.
AFTRA members approved the new agreement by a vote of 85% in favor. Electronic voting by approximately 1,916 “affected members” commenced on June 27 by phone and the Internet. Vote results were tabulated by TrueBallot Election Services and Solutions, a company based in Bethesda, Maryland.
The new pact includes a groundbreaking provision: the industry’s first-ever streaming payment paid to performers in the form of a new cloud gaming fee. The new agreement will be effective retroactively to July 1, 2011 and expire on December 31, 2014.
“I am so pleased and proud that AFTRA members have ratified this new agreement,” said Gabrielle Carteris, Co-Chair of the AFTRA Interactive Negotiating Committee and Los Angeles Local President. “We now have sufficient time to grow more work for members, harness our resources, organize performers and prepare for future negotiations.”
The new cloud gaming fee is an additional one-time payment of 15% of the session fee that will be paid to every Principal Performer engaged on a videogame made available on streaming services.
Other highlights of the successor agreement include:
A 3 1/2 year agreement, effective July 1, 2011 and expiring December 31, 2014.
A 3% increase on all minimum compensation over the life of the contract with 1% effective upon notice of ratification, bringing the new minimum fee for a 4-hour session to $809, and an additional 2% increase on all minimum compensation, effective on May 1, 2013 which will bring the 4-hour session fee to $825.
The union and the employers also agreed to commence early bargaining on the next contract as soon as possible after August 15, 2014 but no later than September 30, 2014.
Contributions to the AFTRA Health and Retirement Fund will be increased by 0.5% bringing the total contribution rate to 15.5%.
“Since the 1990s, the AFTRA Interactive Media Agreement has generated millions of dollars in earnings and benefits for union performers, and over the years, AFTRA members have organized to nurture, protect and improve terms and conditions for performers working in this rapidly growing, multi-billion dollar industry,” said Mathis L. Dunn, Jr., AFTRA Chief Negotiator and Assistant National Executive Director.
Dunn continued: “Cloud gaming is where this industry is headed and AFTRA is in on the ground floor. This is a significant victory for AFTRA members.”
Scott J. Witlin of Barnes & Thornburg LLP, Chief Negotiator for the videogame companies said, “We are pleased that we once again were able to work out an agreement with AFTRA. This agreement settles disputes that created some uncertainty and promotes game development in areas of emerging technology. This agreement is a testament to the hard work and professional approach of the people on both sides of the table.”
AFTRA negotiated the first union agreement covering performers who work in videogames in the early 1990s. The AFTRA Interactive Media Agreement covers performers who work in interactive media, including personal computer programs, arcade games and interactive computer and video animation. Experienced AFTRA performers working under the contract include voiceover performers, actors, dancers, singers, recording artists, sportscasters and other professionals whose talents improve the efficiency and quality of the gaming experience.