LOS ANGELES (Oct. 16, 2016) — The SAG-AFTRA National Board of Directors meeting this weekend in a face-to-face plenary in Los Angeles, voted unanimously to set a strike date against video game employers for this Friday, October 21 at 12:01 a.m.
Depending on the outcome of interactive negotiations this week, SAG-AFTRA will be striking the following video game employers: Activision Publishing, Inc.; Blindlight, LLC; Corps of Discovery Films; Disney Character Voices, Inc.; Electronic Arts Productions, Inc.; Formosa Interactive, LLC; Insomniac Games, Inc.; Interactive Associates, Inc.; Take 2 Interactive Software; VoiceWorks Productions, Inc.; and WB Games, Inc. Unless a deal is struck during bargaining sessions scheduled for the first part of this week, all games that went into production after February 17, 2015 for the aforementioned employers will be struck. For additional details, click here.
SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said, “Through many months of bargaining with interactive employers, we have not reached a fair agreement covering SAG-AFTRA performers working in video games – often the most popular games in the world. Our members have been clear, now is the time for employers to negotiate a modern contract that covers this highly profitable industry.
“A strike is not to be entered into lightly, but when the employers leave us with no recourse, we must stand firm for our members. It is imperative that we secure for them the protections, compensation and benefits they deserve,” Carteris added.
National Executive Director David White said, “We have received a clear and unambiguous message from the community who work this agreement that the situation they face has become intolerable. We are always prepared to reach a fair deal with employers, but they must play their part. It is a serious decision to conclude that a job action of this magnitude is necessary and we hope that we can reach a fair deal before the deadline set by the board. But make no mistake: if we are unable to find a way to address the minimum needs of our members, we will go on strike as planned."
Chief Contracts Officer Ray Rodriguez noted that members working in the video game industry were negotiating to reach a fair contract, but that progress had essentially been stalled for more than a year.
“We need a contract that fits the needs of our members working in video games,” said Rodriguez. “So far employers have been unwilling to meet us even close to where the needs of our members are.”
In other action previously announced, the Board extended White’s role as National Executive Director and authorized a new four-year contract in that capacity, expiring Oct. 11, 2020. Details of the agreement are confidential.
The Board congratulated Carteris, who chairs the union’s TV/Theatrical Wages & Working Conditions and Negotiating Committee, for being honored this week by Variety on its Power of Women Impact list. The Board also recognized Vice President, Small Locals David Hartley-Margolin for his receipt of the Howard Keel Award, the highest honor given by the SAG-AFTRA Committee of Locals, which was presented on Friday. The Board also approved the dedication of the Sylvia Kauders Recording Studio, used to self-record auditions, in the Philadelphia Local office. Named for Sylvia Kauders, a former Philadelphia Local board member and long-time performer, who passed May 5, 2016.
The Board also celebrated the opening of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s new screening room and educational space in New York City that was named the Robin Williams Center for Entertainment and Media in honor of the late actor-comedian. "This expansion is an opportunity not only for New York, but members across the country," said Executive Vice President Rebecca Damon, who also serves on the SAG-AFTRA Foundation's board. "The state-of-the-art facility will allow us to livestream programming that will enrich the lives of all members."
Carteris provided a report highlighting SAG-AFTRA’s attendance at the recent International Federation of Actors (FIA) World Congress in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Carteris congratulated White who was elected to the prestigious FIA presidium, the organization’s highest governing body.
“Our business takes our members around the country and around the world, and we need a presence on the global stage as a result,” said Carteris. “We are very fortunate to have David White representing us on the FIA presidium.”
National Executive Director’s Report
White provided an update on union operations, including a report on core functions and priority initiatives. White welcomed Sean F. Taylor, the new executive director for the SAG-AFTRA San Francisco-Northern California Local.
White reported on union organizing in broadcasting and other areas as well as updating the board on pension, health and retirement matters. He also updated members about the union’s development of new technology assets, including a smartphone app and a direct deposit pilot program for residuals. White said additional information would be available at the January board meeting.
White updated the Board on KNBR 680/1050 in San Francisco, a sports radio station represented by SAG-AFTRA that recently voted overwhelmingly to ratify its first contract from parent company Cumulus Media. The new contract, which runs through the fall of 2019, includes minimum pay for each covered position, annual increases, vacation and holiday benefits and grievance and arbitration procedure. The deal was two years in the making. In September, both parties returned to the bargaining table and a tentative deal was agreed upon by SAG-AFTRA and Cumulus Media.
“Our members are organizing and mobilizing throughout the country to ensure that entertainment and media industry professionals have the protection of a SAG-AFTRA contract,” White said.
Joined by Chief Economist David Viviano, White reported on membership trends, earnings and claims resolved.
Secretary-Treasurer Jane Austin and Chief Financial Officer Arianna Ozzanto reported on fiscal year 2017 first quarter results, which are on plan and tracking to budget.
The board voted to authorize a strike against certain video game employers starting October 21 at 12:01 a.m., depending on the outcome of negotiatations set for Oct. 17-19 in Los Angeles.
Rodriguez also announced dates for the TV/Theatrical Wages and Working Conditions (W&W) process, which commences October 25 and concludes on or about November 17, 2016.
The Board also confirmed the appointment of the Uptown Contract Negotiations Team, which will be chaired by Clyde Kusatsu, vice president, Los Angeles.
Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland reported on routine administrative and governance matters.
Government Affairs and Public Policy
Chief Deputy General Counsel, Legal & Government Affairs, Jeff Bennett presented an update on legislative and public policy initiatives including California’s implementation of AB 1687, the anti-age discrimination bill that was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on September 24.
He also updated the Board on the WIPO Beijing Treaty on Audio Visual Performances and federal copyright protections.
The meeting adjourned Sunday October 16, 2016 at 2 p.m. PT.