Interactive FAQs

Is this a ruse? The demands are too outrageous to be serious. They're just testing us out, right?

If it is a test, let's not fail it. We agree many of their demands are crazy. Some may not even be legally enforceable. Rather than back down, or allow these “proposals” to proceed, let's  send a strong signal to the industry that  we are prepared to negotiate over proposals that are based on precedent and best-practices and that all other proposals should be taken off the table.

Haven't we put ourselves in this position by asking for backend bonus?

Over and over, interactive performers have identified of a backend bonus as a top concern. There is ample precedent for secondary payments across the media landscape. You get secondary payments when you perform in feature films, animation, episodic TV, commercials and the like. But that wasn't always the case. Performers who came before you had the courage to fight for the residual payments you enjoy today, and, because they stood together, they won them.

The top games make money. This industry has grown, boomed and morphed into something bigger and lucrative than any other segment of the entertainment industry, and it continues to do so. The truth is, back end bonuses are not uncommon in the video game industry. Last year, Activision's COO took home a bonus of $3,970,862. EA paid their executive chairman a bonus of $1.5 million. We applaud their success, and we believe our talent and contributions are worth a bonus payment, too.

Aren’t they just trying to take care of their budgets?

Sure. Most of the smaller and less popular games won’t be affected by the residuals payment. We structured our proposal to trigger at 2 million units, the point we would regard a game as a blockbuster. We want the video game industry to keep growing. Growth = More work for us! As for the big games, we know the companies already budget for sales-based bonuses for many of their employees. So maybe the companies are trying to protect the budgets for their top executive bonuses, but is it not reasonable to suggest that performers should also share in these successes?

What are the next steps after a successful strike vote?

After a successful strike authorization vote, we will reach out to the employers and ask them to return to negotiations. 

If we vote for a strike authorization, will the committee check in with the community first before we actually strike?

Absolutely. We will make no steps forward without reaching out to the community first. This is your union, and this is your contract. You and your community will need to decide what you  want and how hard you are willing to fight for it. 

What work would be covered under the strike?

Any project that has been covered by the Interactive Media Agreement, which means any video game. 

Will people know how I vote?

No, all votes are confidential.

Can I work on a video game during the strike?

No. You will not be able to work under the interactive contract while the strike is in effect. But please know, the community would only decide to strike if the short-term risk of loss-of-work is outweighed by the long-term gain of a better contract in a growing industry.

Won’t the employer just go non-union if we strike?

Going nonunion would mean that the producer would lose access to all professional union talent for all their union games. That is a big risk that they are going to have to weigh when deciding to go non-union.

What percentage vote do we need to get the strike authorization?

Per the SAG-AFTRA Constitution, 75% of voters must vote yes to authorize a strike. However, the higher the percentage, the more confidence we have that the performer community is united. We'd like to see 100% engagement, or as close to that percentage as possible.

What happens if we get a weak strike authorization vote or more votes against a strike?

That would send a very different message about what the community wants and what they want to fight for, and we will have to reevaluate where we stand.

Do non-members have to strike as well?

If a strike takes place, then we would ask all performers to respect the strike, regardless of union membership status. Non-members who cross a picket line may not brought up on charges like a union member would, but they would jeopardize their ability to become a member in the future. More importantly, they would also be completely undermining the sacrifices that all of the union actors are making for their benefit. They stand to gain something so much more by supporting us.

Are the employers’ proposals even legal?

We think not. But, saying no will be much easier if the interactive community is on board. It comes down to a question of power. The employers can dig in their heels indefinitely. A strong strike authorization vote is the best way to shift the power dynamic.

Why is atmospheric voices such a bad thing?

It's not. However, the employers want SAG-AFTRA to strip your agent of their union franchise agreement if you and your reps choose to pass on an audition. There is no precedent for this anywhere in the entertainment industry. You and your representative should decide whether or not you want to consider these roles, just like you do with any role in TV, commercials and film.

What is the Strike Authorization Process, Step-by-Step?
  • Affected members will receive a post card in the mail approximately September 16th, 2015 instructing them how to vote online, or request a mail ballot.
  • The voting period will end Oct. 6, 2015.
  • After the vote period ends, we will tally the ballots and factor in those results when deciding next steps.
  • After the strike authorization vote, we will ask the employers to sit down and negotiate one more time before escalating.
Has the contract expired?

Yes, the contract expired on Dec. 31, 2014. It remains in place as an “open contract” until a new one is negotiated or imposed. During the time that the contract is open, the union does not have the ability to file grievances and arbitrations, and the members have the ability to strike.

When did negotiations take place?

First day of negotiations: Feb. 3 - 4, 2015

Second round of negotiations: June 23, 2015

What are possible impacts on other SAG-AFTRA contracts?

If the employers’ proposals for fining actors and agents or the ability to use their staff to do voiceover work in video games gets into the Interactive Media Agreement, then we are setting precedent for all the other industry union contracts. Remember, Warner Bros. and Disney are at the table. If they can get away with these proposals in the Interactive Media Agreement, what's to stop them from making the same proposals at other negotiations?

Who can I contact at the union for more information?

Jill King, SAG-AFTRA Organizer, jill.king@sagaftra.org

What if a member of the press calls me?

Please refer all press inquiries to SAG-AFTRA Chief Communications and Marketing Officer Pamela Greenwalt at pamela.greenwalt@sagaftra.org, (323) 549-6872.