The tentative agreement that ended SAG-AFTRA’s 340-day strike against the video game industry appears headed towards easy ratification. Members meeting tonight in Los Angeles and New York to discuss the deal appear satisfied with its terms. Several members leaving the LA meeting told Deadline that they expect the deal to be ratified.
“It seems like they’re going to ratify it,” said a member leaving the meeting, where the Dodger game was playing on a big screen. “It’s a pretty good deal.”
“Everyone seemed pretty cool,” said Chris Jai Alex, who works as a stuntman and voice artist under the pact. ‘They had a pretty good turnout, even with the Dodgers on.”
“Everybody was positive,” said another member, who said that the new deal “appears to have a lot of benefits.”
Ballots will be counted Nov. 7, and as one actor noted, “Member-involvement will determine if it passes or not.”
The strike was launched October 21, 2016 – one year ago tomorrow – against 11 major companies including Electronic Arts, WB Games, and Activision. The strike, which was suspended on Sept. 25 when the union reached a deal with the companies, was unanimously approved by the guild’s board of directors earlier this month and must now be ratified by members who had earnings under the union’s interactive media agreement after Jan. 1, 2008.
The new deal calls for “bonus pay” based on the number of sessions a performer works on each game, beginning with a $75 payment on the first session and capping out at $2,100 after 10 sessions worked.
It’s not quite the type of residuals system the union stuck for, but performers appear to think it’s close enough. SAG-AFTRA had been seeking a back-end payments schedule that would have given performers a full day’s pay for every 500,000 units sold, up to four secondary payments if the game sells 2 million units.
SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris has called the deal “an important advance in this critical industry space. We secured a number of gains including for the first time, a secondary payment structure which was one of the members’ key concerns.”
The deal also contains an employer commitment to continue working with SAG-AFTRA on the issue of vocal stress during the term of the agreement.
And according to the union, the agreement doesn’t include several proposals sought by management, including a provision that would have fined performers for being late or distracted at session; another that would have required agents to submit performers for low-paying “atmospheric voice” sessions or face fines and a possible revocation of their union franchise, and another that would have allowed employers to use their permanent staff to do covered work outside of the collective bargaining agreement.
The deal also includes improvements in the area of “transparency,” which Ray Rodriguez, the union’s chief contracts officer, has said “will enhance the bargaining power of our members’ representatives by requiring the companies to disclose the code name of project, its genre, whether the game is based on previously published intellectual property and whether the performer is reprising a prior role. Members are also protected by the disclosure of whether they will be required to use unusual terminology, profanity or racial slurs, whether there will be content of a sexual or violent nature and whether stunts will be required.”