A whopping 96.52% of union voice actors have voted in favor of authorizing a strike, should negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and big game publishers like EA and Activision not pan out. The vote took place over several weeks, with popular actors taking to social media to discuss why they feel a strike may become necessary, and what working conditions are like now.
Wil Wheaton’s breakdown of the situation is fairly comprehensive, and worth a read. “I love the work that I do. I’m grateful for the work that I have, and I’ve been lucky to work with some incredibly talented people on both sides of the recording studio glass,” Wheaton writes. “This isn’t about making enemies of the other creative people in the business, be they directors, studio engineers, artists, programmers, sound designers, writers, etc. This is about a handful of extremely wealthy, extremely powerful people trying to take away our ability to make a living, to take care of our voices, and to be safe on the set.”
Others in the industry feel that it’s unfair for voice actors to demand better working conditions and better pay when developers and other workers face similar problems, and arguably work much longer hours. (Hopefully the results of the SAG-AFTRA negotiations open the doorway for better working conditions all around, via unionization or otherwise.) You can take a look at the #PerformanceMatters hashtag on Twitter for more perspectives.
SAG-AFTRA reaffirms that strike isn’t necessarily imminent, but rather that the vote has given the National Board authority to declare one. A 75% in-favor vote was required, and surpassed, with the final tally coming in at 96.52%. The Negotiating Committee will now return to the bargaining table and “continue to press for a fair resolution on behalf of performers working in video games,” reads the contract. This will be a continuation of bargaining sessions that were held in February and June of this year—sessions that failed to produce an agreement.