AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka has called on the video game industry to return to the bargaining table to end SAG-AFTRA’s weeklong strike against 11 video game companies.
“The AFL-CIO stands in solidarity with the SAG-AFTRA voice-over and motion-capture performers who are on strike after failed negotiations with 11 video game employers,” Trumka said in a statement. “Performers deserve a modern contract that offers the protections necessary to work in today’s video game industry.”
SAG-AFTRA is a member of the AFL-CIO and pays it more than $1 million a year in dues.
“No one wants a strike,” Trumka said, “but for nearly two years video game employers have been unwilling to meet basic demands necessary to bring this collective bargaining agreement up to the standards of other mature industry contracts. We urge video game employers to negotiate in good faith and work with SAG-AFTRA to bargain a fair agreement.”
The main strike issue is the union’s insistence on establishing back-end residuals payments for performers who work on games that sell more than 2 million units. The two sides came very close to an agreement on the issue, but couldn’t agree on what to call it. Seeking to set a precedent that might lead to residuals in future negotiations, the union asked for an upfront buyout of “secondary compensation” (i.e., residuals), but the companies refused to call it that. Instead, it offered a nearly identical proposal that it calls “additional compensation.”
Both sides’ plans would have given actors a bonus on top of their regular pay when they work on more than one session per game, topping out at $950 for eight sessions. The union, however, wanted to give the companies the option of paying the upfront bonus or paying residuals for successful games. “We simply asked to include secondary payments as an option in the agreement,” the union says. “This would allow other producers to avoid those upfront costs by agreeing to share their prosperity on the back end if their game was successful. The game companies we are negotiating with adamantly refused to allow such an option to exist in the contract. That is why we find ourselves at such an impasse.”