SAG-AFTRA Draws More Than 500 to Video Game Strike Rally

SAG-AFTRA drew more than 500 supporters Thursday to a spirited rally as its video game strike moves into its fourth month.

“We are not going to stop until we have a fair contract for our members,” said David White, SAG-AFTRA national executive director. “This is not just about money. It’s about fair working conditions and secondary compensation.”

The union, which has already picketed Activision, Warner Bros., and Insomniac Games, marched from its Los Angeles headquarters to the park next to the La Brea Tar Pits for the rally.

Negotiations collapsed in October, resulting in SAG-AFTRA calling a strike on Oct. 21 against 11 video game producers: Insomniac Games; Warner Bros.; EA; Activision Publishing; Blindlight; Corps of Discovery Films; Disney Character Voices, Inc.; Formosa Interactive, LLC; Interactive Associates; Take 2 Interactive Software; and VoiceWorks Productions.

Negotiating committee member Phil LaMarr revealed at the rally that a dozen unnamed companies have agreed since the strike began to contracts with terms containing SAG-AFTRA’s proposal — which provide for residuals, vocal-stress protections, coverage of stunt coordinators, and disclosure of what the work entails before the performer agrees to the job.

“The new deals show that those companies realize that what we’re asking for is reasonable,” he added.

Gabrielle Carteris, president of SAG-AFTRA, led the march and rally, as she has at the three previous pickets. She told the crowd, “You are the collective voice — performance matters.”

White told Variety at the rally that the performers union is amenable to re-starting negotiations, adding, “We are open 24/7.”

Scott Witlin, who represents the video game companies, has repeatedly blasted the union leadership for not allowing members to vote on the final offer, providing an immediate 9 percent pay hike.

“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,” he said Thursday.

“Indeed, we offered more money than SAG-AFTRA demanded in an attempt to avoid this strike. 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.”

The rally drew members of WGA, DGA, Actors Equity, IATSE, Unite Here, SEIU, the Teamsters and the American Federation of Musicians, which provided a brass band. 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 and rapper Murs performed.

 

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