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Activision, EA and others launch site attacking voice actors union over strike

Calls for more transparency between SAG-AFTRA and its members

gaudin davis ea sports recording
Broadcasters Charles Davis (left) and Brandon Gaudin recording audio commentary for Madden NFL 17.
Electronic Arts

On Monday, voice actors represented by SAG-AFTRA, a union representing talent in the television, film, radio and other art industries, officially began their strike against certain companies in the gaming industry.

In response, the group representing companies like Activision, Disney, Warner Bros. Interactive, Take-Two Interactive and Electronic Arts has launched a website calling out the union for its lack of communication with actors about what the companies were willing to negotiate, and for forcing a strike.

On the site, the group breaks down a number of issues that the union wanted addressed. The issues included providing additional compensation, as well as a safer work environment for actors who had complained about vocal cord damage. According to the website, both SAG-AFTRA and the video game companies involved in the strike had agreed to cooperate better when it came to protecting the actors’ vocal cords, but where they differed on opinion was the length of the sessions.

SAG-AFTRA demanded that a regular four-hour recording session be cut into two sessions to reduce stress on vocal cords, but that actors be paid for four hours of work. The companies agreed to split the four-hour session into two recordings as long as the actors arranged it ahead of time and recorded the two sessions within five business days. According to a chart on the site, the union did not agree with those terms and withdrew its proposal entirely.

In terms of financial compensation, the actors union has asked that its talent receive royalties for every 2 million copies of a game sold, on top of the 9 percent increase in base wages that both parties agreed to. A statement on the video game companies’ website states that while they have agreed to provide a bonus to voice actors depending on the amount of sessions they recorded for the game, it would be a flat fee of $950 instead of a percentage of sales.

"The Companies’ proposal is guaranteed money to the performers (who work more than one session on a game) paid at the time the game launches and is not in any way a choice by the video game producer or dependent on the success of failure of the title, so much of which is outside of a performer’s control," the website reads.

Negotiations between the companies and SAG-AFTRA have been going on for close to two years, with the union representing close to 25 percent of the voice actors working within the industry today. Actors like David Hayter (best known as Snake in Metal Gear Solid) and Jennifer Hale (the female Commander Shepard in Mass Effect) are represented by the union, and have voiced their support for the strike.

Polygon has reached out for comment from SAG-AFTRA, and will update when more information becomes available.

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