The threatened video game voice actor strike by the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) has been called off. This follows talks during which a tentative new agreement has been reached with video game publishers on new contracts.
The new three and a half year agreement came after three months of bargaining, and just before the results of a strike authorization vote was due to be announced. It includes a 36 percent increase in minimum pay, with a 25 percent increase to be implemented immediately. Increases in benefit contributions and greater protections for performers are also included as part of the deal.
The disagreement between publishers and the actors unions originally arose
as the unions expressed concerns that scale actors were being underpaid for their work in video games.
One of the main demands of the unions was that a residual, or profit sharing, model be instituted for work on video games, but this was withdrawn at the last minute in return for a higher minimum wage.
The new agreement must now be approved by SAG's national executive committee and AFTRA's national administrative committee, both of which are due to meet in the next few weeks. If approved, these contracts, covering voice over talent, singers, dancers and performance capture performers, among others, will become effective July 1, 2005 and remain in full force until December 31, 2008.
"The negotiating committee wrestled with a great challenge," said SAG president Melissa Gilbert. "We will spend the next three-and-a-half years devoting resources to further organize this industry, and return to the bargaining table with renewed strength and vigor to establish a fair participation in the enormous profits generated by video games."