Members of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) union overwhelmingly approved a new contract governing their work in the game sector, easing the concerns of game developers over possible future SAG strike action, and possibly ending a labyrinthine series of negotiations which once came close to strike action.
The new Interactive Media Agreement, approved by 81.2% of SAG members who voted on the contract, secures higher wages and increased benefits but no residuals for SAG members who contribute voice-overs or likenesses to games. The smaller American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which approved and adopted the contract in June, jointly negotiated the agreement.
The contract goes into effect Friday, July 29, 2005, and runs through December 31, 2008. Voice-over and other performers will receive a 36% boost in wages, beginning with an immediate 25% hike—daily earnings for a four-hour voice-over session will be $759. Actors will also receive increases in benefits, greater work protection, and double-time paid after six hours instead of after 10. An increase in contributions to the unions’ benefit plan sets contributions at 14.3%, while the unions also made 15%-25% gains in rates for remote delivery and integration.
Affirmation of the contract comes after SAG members rejected a contract approved in June by a slim majority of SAG’s national executive committee, despite the membership vote and the recommendation of the guild’s negotiating committee that it be approved. SAG held a strike referendum on game concerns in May but failed to garner support from members for a strike over residuals.
Sallie Weaver, SAG’s chief negotiator, said that with the vote of the contract, “SAG members have achieved major gains despite the fact that we were not able to win in the area of residuals. The interactive market is of vital importance to our membership, and SAG will spend the next three-and-a-half years devoting resources to further organize this exploding industry so that we can return to the bargaining table with renewed strength and vigor.”