Updated with game companies’ response Actors’ Equity Association has become the latest actors union to tighten the screws on video game companies being struck by SAG-AFTRA, reminding its members that they are not allowed to accept struck voice-over work. Actor unions in England, Australia and New Zealand also have warned their members not to accept struck work.
“Actors’ Equity stands in solidarity with and support of its sister union SAG-AFTRA as it fights for a fair contract for voice-over and motion-capture performers,” Equity executive director Mary McColl said in a statement. “Equity members are reminded that they cannot accept work from these employers, and they should contact Equity immediately if they are offered any such employment.”
Said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris: “The video game corporations we’re striking have tried to sow divisions among our membership instead of returning to the bargaining table to negotiate a fair contract. Not only are SAG-AFTRA members united in this strike action, but they have the support of their union brothers and sisters from AEA. I want to thank Mary McColl and the AEA leadership for their strong support.”
The key issue in the strike, which is now in its fifth week, is over residuals. The guild wants to give the companies the option of paying an upfront bonus to performers, or pay back-end residuals on successful games. The companies have steadfastly refused to include any type of residuals formula in its collective bargaining agreement.
Scott Witlin, the video game companies’ chief negotiator, mocked Equity’s support of the strike. “AEA and SAG-AFTRA are sister organizations,” he said. “So this is like a political candidate getting the support from his mother. It is a testament to the weakness of SAG-AFTRA’s position that it took more than four weeks to get AEA to endorse this strike. The same performers to whom we are offering $900 for a day’s work, can be paid as little as $492 for a full week when working under an AEA contract. The AEA’s weighing in on this dispute only highlights how well the SAG-AFTRA negotiators have done in getting the video game companies to put an offer on the table that offers a 9% increase and additional compensation of up to $950 per game. SAG-AFTRA should stop blocking a democratic vote on the companies’ comprehensive and enhanced final package proposal so the strike can end.”