More than 400 SAG-AFTRA members and their supporters picketed Insomniac Games in Burbank today as the actors strike against selected video game companies ended its fourth week.
Carrying signs and chanting “Actors! On strike!” the picketers said they’re determined to stay out as long as it takes to get a fair contract. And by fair, they mean a contract that includes some type of residuals for video game work.
“We’re staying out as long as it takes until the game producers decide to come back to the bargaining table and be reasonable,” said actor Phil LaMarr, a member of the union’s negotiating committee.
As cars passed the long line of picketers, many honked in support. And as a motorcycle cop ordered the strikers to stay on the sidewalk, a bagpipe briefly struck up a refrain from “Amazing Grace.”
The main strike issue is residuals for successful games, but the companies steadfastly have refused to establish any type of backend residuals formula. Both sides’ proposals would have given actors a bonus on top of their regular pay when they work on more than one session per game, topping out at $950 for eight sessions. The union, however, wanted to give the companies the option of paying the upfront bonus or paying residuals for successful games.
“The SAG-AFTRA proposal has two options for game producers,” the companies say on their website. “The union’s first proposal for an optional ‘contingent fees’ structure is so onerous that no one would elect to use it. The union’s second option is virtually identical in money to the companies’ proposal.”
Which begs the question: If the backend option is so onerous that no one would use it, then why not give it to the union and end the strike?
The answer appears to be that the companies are determined not to allow any type of residuals — optional or not — to become part of the collective bargaining agreement.