UPDATED with video game companies’ response, 6:25 PM: The 14-week-old actors strike against selected video game companies “is entering a crucial phase,” SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris said in an email today to members of the union’s Los Angeles board of directors, urging them to attend a rally next week outside the union’s headquarters in Hollywood.
“I am reaching out with an urgent request,” she told the board members. “SAG-AFTRA needs your help in moving employers to agree to a 21st century contract. We are holding what’s expected to be our largest rally to date, and while we all have busy schedules and time is valuable, this is a vital action for our union. We need your voice. Join us on Feb. 2 to send management the message that resolving the strike will benefit everyone.”
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the struck video game companies said in response: “We would hope that after 100 days, union leaders would want to negotiate rather than continue to procrastinate.” But he insisted that this is not a call for the resumption of negotiations, which broke off 99 days ago.
“The SAG-AFTRA strike is now entering its 100th day since union leaders walked away from negotiations with the video game companies,” Sam Singer, the companies’ spokesman, said in a statement. “That period was a crucial time when the union had an opportunity to allow its members to vote on the companies’ pay and benefit package, which mirrored the union’s requests. However, union leaders refused to allow their members to vote on an excellent package and forced them to go on strike.
“The companies are the greatest advocates for the skill and talent of the performers represented by SAG-AFTRA and their contributions to the video games that the public loves,” he continued. “The union leadership’s planned protest on Feb. 2 may make good theater, but it doesn’t get them any closer to a contract, which is something we imagine their members would like to achieve. It’s one thing to protest; it’s wholly another to negotiate a new contract.”
He also added, “I will go so far as to say this: The companies have been and remain willing to meet to discuss the performers return to work and the companies’ comprehensive revised and enhanced final package proposal remains on the table.”
Residuals remain the key issue in the strike, which began October 21. The guild wants to give the game companies the option of paying an upfront bonus to performers or paying backend residuals on successful games. The companies, however, steadfastly have refused to include any residuals formula in the collective bargaining agreement. Earlier this week, the the first actors strike in 17 years became the second-longest in SAG history — topping the 95-day strike of 1980 but still behind 183-day commercials strike of 2000.