Video game voice actors reach deal to end almost year-long strike

The agreement includes a secondary payment structure for voice talent.

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SAG-AFTRA has reached a "tentative agreement" with leading video games publishers to end its strike. After months of debate, and rejected deals, voice artists began striking on October 21st. Along the way, they also carried out picketing campaigns against Electronic Arts, WB Games, and other firms. Now, 340 days down the line, the strike could finally be coming to a halt. The new agreement (which still needs to be approved by the labor union's board of directors) includes bonus pay relating to the amount of sessions a performer works on a game. The payments start at $75 for the first session and max out at $2,100 for ten sessions.

"This is an important advance in this critical industry space. We secured a number of gains including for the first time, a secondary payment structure which was one of the members' key concerns," said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris.

Crucially, the deal also contains an employer commitment to continue working with SAG-AFTRA on the issue of vocal stress during the course of the agreement. This particular demand had proven a stumbling block in the past. Voice actors claimed they were forced to shout for hours on end without breaks, which could have lead to permanent damage to their vocal chords. Publishers and developers, however, ignored those concerns when proposing settlements.

Still, not all their requests were met. Deadline is reporting that SAG-AFTRA had previously asked for a back-end payments schedule entitling performers to a full-day's pay for each 500,000 video game units sold -- and up to four secondary payments for 2 million units sold. And, according to SAG-AFTRA, the deal doesn't involve several proposals sought by management. These include a provision that would have fined performers for being late or distracted at a session. And, another that would have required agents to submit performers for low-paying "atmospheric voice" sessions, or face fines.

"The new transparency provisions will enhance the bargaining power of our members' representatives by requiring the companies to disclose the code name of [a] project, its genre, whether the game is based on previously published intellectual property and whether the performer is reprising a prior role," said chief contracts officer Ray Rodriguez. "Members are also protected by the disclosure of whether they will be required to use unusual terminology, profanity or racial slurs, whether there will be content of a sexual or violent nature and whether [vocal] stunts will be required."

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