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Gabrielle Carteris Urges SAG-AFTRA Members to Support Video Game Strike

Variety logo Variety 1/27/2017 Dave McNary
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SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris is urging the 160,000 members of the performers union to back the three-month-strike against video game companies.

The union, which has already picketed Activision, Warner Bros. and Insomniac Games, has scheduled a noon rally at its Los Angeles headquarters for Feb. 2.

After negotiations cratered, SAG-AFTRA called 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.

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. Key issues include performance bonuses, safety and transparency for voice actors — meaning that the union wants companies to stop being able to hire without identifying the game.

Carteris has been an active presence on all three picket lines, each which drew several hundred members.

She told Variety recently, “We knew going in that this would be a long-term fight, which is why we spent nearly two years in negotiations trying to make a deal before resorting to a strike. Production cycles in the video game space are very long, which means it takes time for a strike to have an effect. We are also very focused on working with video game employers that are not struck to create contracts that make sense for them and for professional performers and that effort has already begun to bear fruit.”

The companies issued a dismissive response on Thursday: “The strike is now entering its 100 day since SAG-AFTRA walked away from negotiations with the Video Game Companies.  The Companies are the greatest advocates for the skill and talent of the performers represented by SAG-AFTRA and their contributions to the video games that the public loves.

“The union leadership’s planned protest on Feb. 2 may make good theater, but it doesn’t get them any closer to a contract, which is something we imagine their members would like to achieve.  It’s one thing to protest, it’s wholly another to negotiate a new contract. We would hope that after 100 days union leaders would want to negotiate rather than continue to procrastinate.”

Here is the letter Carteris sent out Thursday:

Dear Member,

I am reaching out with an urgent request. Our strike against the biggest video game companies in the industry is entering a crucial phase and SAG-AFTRA needs your help in moving employers to agree to a 21st Century contract.

We are holding what’s expected to be our largest rally to date and while we all have busy schedules and time is valuable, this is a vital action for our union. We need your voice. Join us on Feb. 2 to send management the message that resolving the strike will benefit everyone.

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