Thursday, June 23, 2005

Historic SAG vote nixes gaming deal

Like the old adage says, "It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings". Well, if that fat lady is a member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), she won't be singing in any video games any time soon.

For the first time in history, a deal agreed negotiated and agreed upon by SAG representatives was formally rejected by SAG's executive committee. The results of the usually routine approval process have now caused a major stir in Hollywood. Apparently the executive committee's vote was split, with a majority voting in favor of the new deal. Unfortunately, SAG rules requires a 60 percent vote from the executive committee to pass, and the vote on the game contract fell just short of 60 percent. Making matters more complicated is the fact that the executive committee for the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) voted in favor of the deal last week, locking them into the 3 1/2 contract when the deal goes into effect on July 1.

The deal negotiated between games publishers, SAG, and AFTRA called for a 36 percent total increase in pay over the course of the contract, with a 25 percent pay hike taking place immediately. The deal did not include any sort of agreement for residuals based on the sales of a game. Residuals were a particular sticking point during negotiations, as the unions feel the work of members on video games is a key selling point, entitling members to a percentage of the profits from a game's sales.

Ironically, the SAG vote seems to have less to do with the actual video game deal itself than it does with politcal in-fighting within SAG ranks, with members of the group Restore Respect in favor of the deal and members of the opposing Membership First faction opposing the deal. Now, due to the failure of the vote, SAG members are left in a rough bargaining position. A previous strike vote by SAG fell far short of the 75 percent majority vote required by SAG members (as opposed to the 60 perecent majority required in committee votes). And since the AFTRA has officially accepted the new contract, it's highly unlikely that game companies would be willing to make additional concessions to appease SAG members.

1 comment:

randy said...

*sigh*

sounds like a bunch of idiots... no, it sounds more like my kids fighting over nothing.

Oh well, hope they get it figured out.