SAG-AFTRA May Be Planning Strike

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Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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SAG-AFTRA May Be Planning Strike

It might come as a surprise to some gamers out there, but SAG-AFTRA, the actors' guild, actually plays a role in video gaming. As such, it might do a bit of harm when the group potentially declares itself on strike against the video game industry.

A set of negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and those gaming companies that hire voice actors didn't exactly go well--SAG-AFTRA described it as "Despite years of concerted effort and negotiating sessions, video game employers have steadfastly refused to reach a fair deal during our contract negotiations" which is about the high-water market for "didn't go well"--leading to the likely emergence of a strike.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the negotiating arm of the video game companies Barnes & Thornberg, via Scott J. Witlin, noted that it had been negotiating " good faith for the past 18 months with SAG-AFTRA union leaders, and are making progress toward a new contract." Witlin also noted "We are deeply disappointed to learn today of the union’s threatened strike and its unilateral violation of the mutually agreed upon ‘news black-out’ on negotiation discussions."

It sounds like the normal kind of SAG-AFTRA affair, in which it asserts unilaterally that it's moved heaven and earth to make a deal and yet whoever it's dealing with simply won't play fair. By like token, it's not a surprise to see the other side claim similarly.

This move could be defused, however, should subsequent discussions on "contingent compensation" like residuals based on profit sharing or health allowances, in which sessions are limited to two hours a pop in a bid to protect the actors' voices. These aren't necessarily bad conditions, but it could get in the way of development processes. Given that programmers don't get similar rest for their wrists and fingers, SAG-AFTRA might be pushing too hard.

It'll be interesting to see how it all turns out, and with only a few days until the strike happens, if at all, the end result could throw a crimp in some development operations.

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