During a major rally today in Los Angeles, SAG-AFTRA members called for the 11 struck video game corporations to end their bargaining standoff. Members contend the long-running strike can be concluded with a fair agreement benefiting both sides.
SAG-AFTRA’s approximately 160,000 members have been on strike against an 11-member bargaining unit, which includes video game corporations Activision Publishing Inc., Electronic Arts Productions, Inc. and WB Games, Inc. among others, since Oct. 21, 2016. The strike came after 19 months of negotiations wherein the corporations refused to alter their bargaining stance, or make any concessions. The rally in Los Angeles, which began at SAG-AFTRA Plaza and continued at the nearby La Brea Tar Pits, marks the two-year anniversary of the bargaining process on the interactive contract, which governs video game work.
“This is a crucial time. The video game companies are getting ready to start production on a slate of new titles. They need and want our members’ talent to be on their games,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris. “I urge these video game corporations to accept the industry-standard agreements that they know are fair and right so we can get back to work – together.”
Carteris on Thursday addressed a crowd of approximately 500, which included SAG-AFTRA members and members of WGA, DGA, Actors Equity, IATSE, UNITE HERE, SEIU, the Teamsters and AFM, which sent a New Orleans-style brass band to lead a march down Wilshire Blvd. Art Pulaski of the California Labor Federation, Rusty Hicks of the L.A. County Federation of Labor and Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu also spoke to the crowd. Rapper Murs performed.
National Executive Director David White said, “Enough is enough. It’s time for the video game corporations to stop stalling and meet us halfway. Working together we can achieve continued growth for their companies along with fair compensation and safe sets for our members. Their continued stalling is only going to slow down their game production and hurt their bottom lines.”
SAG-AFTRA Interactive Negotiating Committee Chair Keythe Farley said, “I can’t believe we’re still fighting for this contract two years later. I thought we’d be done by lunch on day one. I figured we were all eager to update the substandard, 20-year-old contract that we’ve been operating under and start fresh with a modern, industry-standard agreement that protects, and fairly compensates, performers working on today’s video games. The one thing that keeps me going is our members’ dedication and commitment to a fair contract. It’s the same dedication they bring to their performances, so I guess it’s no surprise, really.”
Meanwhile, Interactive Negotiating Committee member Phil LaMarr announced that nearly a dozen games have been signed to SAG-AFTRA’s new interactive contract, which includes secondary compensation, transparency and stunt safety provisions. “These deals show that other companies see that what we’re asking for is reasonable,” LaMarr said.