Voice Actor Strike Continues, as 450 Attend Picket at Ratchet & Clank Office
"2-4-6-8 come on now, negotiate!"
[UPDATE] The video game industry's legal counsel, Scott Witlin, released a statement today in response to the ongoing pickets. Witlin is the chief negotiation for the video game publishers facing the strike. SAG-AFTRA recently called him out for "spouting debunked talking points instead of helping his clients reach a fair deal with SAG-AFTRA." Here is Witlin's statement:
"After a month without being permitted to vote on the Companies' Comprehensive and Enhanced Final Offer, it is not surprising that members want to see the strike come to a conclusion. Nothing would please the Companies more than to have the talented SAG-AFTRA members back at work. It is inexplicable that SAG-AFTRA will not permit a democratic vote on a contract that currently offers its members an immediate 9% wage increase and Additional Compensation of up to $950 per game. How will the members feel when they lose that offer because SAG-AFTRA did not permit a timely ratification?
"Further the agreement is not 'decades old.' The most recent agreement was renegotiated in 2011 and the concepts that we have put on the table is a ground breaking new form of compensation for performers. What SAG-AFTRA is asking for is replicating a decades old structure that does not fit this modern industry."
The original story is below.
As the video game voice actor strike continues into its second month, there does not appear to be an end in sight. The latest action came on Thursday, November 17, when approximately 450 SAG-AFTRA members and allies picketed Ratchet & Clank and Sunset Overdrive developer Insomniac Games at its HQ in Burbank, California.
This was the union's fourth picket since the strike against 11 video game companies began on October 21. Previous pickets were held at EA, Warner Bros, and Voiceworks Productions; all combined, around 700 people have attended the pickets in an attempt to have their voices heard.
In a statement, SAG-AFTRA said it believes its picket of Insomniac Games--the largest to date--should help raise awareness for the cause.
"Each picket has brought out more members than the last," SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris said in a statement. "SAG-AFTRA members and our allies support this action and are continually raising the pressure on the video game companies to come back to the bargaining table with fair proposals so we can reach a deal."
The picket at Insomniac Games was streamed via Facebook Live, while the hashtag #PerformanceMatters became a trending topic on Twitter in Los Angeles. People at the picket chanted, "2-4-6-8 come on now, negotiate!"
There may not be more physical pickets this year, but SAG-AFTRA said it is planning a number of "virtual actions" to help people get an idea for what they called "the video game corporations' unfair treatment of SAG-AFTRA performers."
"The holiday season is a great time for SAG-AFTRA to get its message out because this is when gamers are thinking about new titles, and their favorite characters in those games," SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee chair Keythe Farley said in a statement. "We're asking gamers, when you pick up your favorite titles this holiday season, tell the video game corporations how much the voices you hear and the performances you see add to your gaming experience."
Also in SAG-AFTRA's statement, the union called out the video game industry's attorney, who they said is "spouting debunked talking points instead of helping his clients reach a fair deal with SAG-AFTRA."
Check out GameSpot's previous coverage of the voice actor strike to learn more about what's going on and what each side wants.
"We negotiated with them for 19 months in good faith," Freeman said. "It's the longest negotiation SAG-AFTRA has ever done. It was the last thing we wanted to do, but they left us with no choice."
You can read the full interview here; we'll report back with more details on the strike in the days and weeks ahead.