Unions and Video Game Companies Reach Tentative Agreement on New Contracts

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Unions and Video Game Companies Reach Tentative Agreement on New Contracts

Performers and Producers Avert Work Stoppage on Eve of Strike Vote Tally; Unions’ Focus Now Moves to Stepped-Up Organizing Efforts

Los Angeles (June 8, 2005) —Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) today announced they have reached tentative agreements with video game companies on new contracts. The new three-and-a-half year agreements -- reached after three months of bargaining, the break-off of talks on May 13, and right before the results of a strike authorization vote by both unions was to be announced -- include a 36 percent increase in minimum pay over the term, with 25 percent to be immediately implemented. In addition, the pacts contain significant increases in benefit contributions, as well as greater protections for the performers who do this work. The tentative agreements now must be approved by SAG’s National Executive Committee and AFTRA’s National Administrative Committee, both of which will meet in the coming weeks.

On the eve of a strike authorization vote, and after much deliberation, both unions reluctantly withdrew their demand that a residual, or profit-sharing, model be instituted for video games, in return for producers putting more money for minimum pay into both contracts. Accordingly, the parties have agreed that the final vote tallies for the strike authorizations will not be announced.

“The negotiating committee wrestled with a great challenge. Our members clearly support the inclusion of residuals in our Interactive contracts. However, with great reluctance, our negotiating committee concluded that it is in the interests of the members who work these contracts to make this deal,” said SAG President Melissa Gilbert. “We will spend the next three-and-a-half years devoting resources to further organize this industry, and return to the bargaining table with renewed strength and vigor to establish a fair participation in the enormous profits generated by video games.”

AFTRA National President John Connolly noted, “We are proud that this deal significantly enhances wages and increases benefits for performers in interactive games. While we did not get all that we want...and deserve… this contract is another important step in building artists' power in this growing sector of the media industry. The road to creating fair industry standards for working performers runs through significantly increased union density in interactive game production. We will vigorously pursue this objective during the term of this agreement. Achieving greater density in interactive games will dramatically serve our goal of winning residuals. I salute the hard work, hard road, and hard decisions that our member committee and our dedicated staff took on in these negotiations.”

If approved, these contracts, covering voice-over talent, singers, dancers and performance capture performers, among others, will become effective July 1, 2005 and remain in full force until December 31, 2008. The previous agreements initially expired on December 31, 2004, but were extended several times as negotiations continued.

Highlights of these agreements include:

·An immediate 25 percent increase in minimum wages from $556 to $695 for a four-hour session for up to three voices with increases in subsequent years, bringing the daily rate up to $759.

·Double time pay after six hours (previously ten hours) for three-voice performers.

·A 7.5 percent increase in contributions to the unions’ benefits plans, bringing the rate up to 14.3 percent.

·15-25 percent gains in rates for remote delivery and integration.

·Payment to actors for reuse of performances in promotional films longer than 12 minutes.

·A specified rest period for each hour spent recording.

·Payment window shortened from 30 to 12 business days.

·Pre-work notification to actors performing in stressful sessions.

About SAG

Screen Actors Guild is the nation’s largest labor union representing working actors. Established in 1933, SAG has a rich history in the American labor movement, from standing up to studios to break long-term engagement contracts in the 1940s to fighting for artists’ rights amid the digital revolution sweeping the entertainment industry in the 21st century. With 20 branches nationwide, SAG represents nearly 120,000 working actors in film, television, industrials, commercials and music videos. The Guild exists to enhance actors’ working conditions, compensation and benefits and to be a powerful, unified voice on behalf of artists’ rights. SAG is a proud affiliate of the AFL-CIO. Headquartered in Los Angeles, you can visit SAG online at www.sag.org.

About AFTRA

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists -- affiliated with the AFL-CIO -- is a diverse national union representing nearly 80,000 professional performers, broadcasters and recording artists in 32 Locals throughout the country. AFTRA members work as actors, broadcast journalists, dancers, singers, announcers, hosts, comedians and disc jockeys in all aspects of the media industries including television and radio, sound recordings, commercials, industrial non-broadcast, interactive games and the Internet. More information on AFTRA is available at www.aftra.com.