“This is the membership saying to the companies, ‘We want a fair contract,’ ” SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris told Variety. “What they offered a month ago is not a fair proposal. That’s why we’re here today.”
The union has asserted that more than 700 members and supporters have attended the first two pickets, which were held Oct. 24 at Electronic Arts and on Nov. 3 at Warner Bros., where national exec director David White spoke with a bullhorn.
SAG-AFTRA called a strike against 11 video game producers on Oct. 21: 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.
Insomniac is the developer of the “Ratchet and Clank” games. Negotiations cratered last month over the key issues of secondary compensation (residuals) and transparency for voice actors — meaning that the union wants companies to stop being able to hire without identifying the game.
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% pay hike.
“What they’re offering is so minimal compared to the billions they make,” said Jane Austin, SAG-AFTRA secretary-treasurer.
The demonstration was punctuated by chants of “Hey hey, shut it down, Burbank is a union town” and “2-4-6-8, come on now, negotiate.”
Witlin issued a statement in response: “After a month without being permitted to vote on the Companies’ Comprehensive and Enhanced Final Offer, it is not surprising that members want to see the strike come to a conclusion. Nothing would please the Companies more than to have the talented SAG-AFTRA members back at work. It is inexplicable that SAG-AFTRA will not permit a democratic vote on a contract that currently offers its members an immediate 9% wage increase and Additional Compensation of up to $950 per game. How will the members feel when they lose that offer because SAG-AFTRA did not permit a timely ratification?”