More than 400 actors and their supporters rallied today at the La Brea Tar Pits to draw attention to SAG-AFTRA’s 105-day-old strike against selected video game companies. It was the largest show of support for the strike to date and included representatives from IATSE, the WGA, the DGA, the Teamsters and the Musicians Union, which supplied a brass band.
“We are fighting for a fair contract,” SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris told the cheering crowd as an airplane buzzed overhead towing a “#Performance Matters” banner. “It’s a righteous cause.”
Asked if the actors union is ready to return to the bargaining table, negotiating committee chair Keythe Farley told Deadline: “We could get this done this afternoon if they’d be willing to meet with us and give us a fair contract. None of us wants to be on strike.”
Scott Witlin, the companies’ chief negotiator, said in a statement to Deadline today: “We remain disappointed that SAG-AFTRA leadership remains focused on outmoded ideas about how compensation is structured rather than the real dollars and cents that the video game companies put on the table. Indeed, we offered more money than SAG-AFTRA demanded in an attempt to avoid this strike.”
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.
“We are not going to stop until we have a fair contract for our members,” David White, the union’s national executive director, told the crowd today. And then, addressing what he called a $100 billion industry, he said, “We are demanding that you pay secondary compensation now.”
Added Witlin in his statement: “The union leaders walked away from real gains in order to try to fit this business into an old mold. That was an unfortunate position for them as it has only hurt performers who have lost work and who will continue to miss out on new work for as long as the strike continues.”
According to Phil LaMarr, a member of the interactive negotiating committee, nearly a dozen games have been signed to a contract promulgated by the union, which includes secondary compensation, transparency and stunt safety provisions – three of the guild’s chief strike goals. “These deals show that other companies see that what we’re asking for is reasonable,” he said.