Video Game Companies Comparison Chart Demonstrates Its Final Offer to SAG-AFTRA Matches Union’s Demands Before It Called A Strike Over Interactive Media Agreement Negotiations

The Video Game Companies released a comparison chart and supporting documentation from both the Companies and SAG-AFTRA to demonstrate that the Companies’ final proposal to SAG-AFTRA is almost identical to the Union’s proposal.

The chart validates the Companies’ position that they have substantially met SAG-AFTRA’s last proposal, including the topic of workplace safety, prior to the union going on strike. There is nearly no difference between the Companies’ final proposal and the Union’s proposal. The wages, additional compensation, pension and health contributions, vocal stress, stunt coordination, and transparency proposals are almost identical as summarized below.

The Video Game Companies’ offer to SAG-AFTRA virtually matches the union’s demands. Below please find a summary of each issue, as well as an accompanying chart illustrating the comparison.

Below you will find the Companies’ Comprehensive Revised and Enhanced Final Package Proposal (of the evening of October 18, 2016) presented to the Union before they called to strike on October, 21, 2016. Click the buttons below to read the them: 

The above Proposal was preceded earlier in the day with the Companies’ Comprehensive Revised and Enhanced Final Package Proposal (of the afternoon of October 18, 2016) and SAG-AFTRA’s response:

Status of SAG-AFTRA Interactive Media Agreement Negotiations

9 Percent Wage Hike

The Companies exceeded the Union’s request for a 3% raise over each of the next three years by Companies offering a 9 percent up-front increase, but only if a new agreement is ratified by December 1.

Summary of Interactive Companies’ Prior Proposals
As of 10/18/2016

Companies increased their wage rate proposal from 2% per year to 3% per year as previously proposed by Union but

Provided the IMA is ratified by December 1, 2016, proposed accelerating the increase in wage rates to 9% effective as of the first Sunday after ratification in lieu of annual increases.

SAG-AFTRA Response
10/18/2016

Union agreed

Companies’ Comprehensive Revised and Enhanced Final Package Proposal
(written proposal 10/19/2016)

Provided the IMA is ratified by December 1, 2016, proposed accelerating the increase in wage rates to 9% effective as of the first Sunday after ratification in lieu of annual increases.

Additional Compensation

In the Companies’ final proposal, the Companies increased the maximum amount of Additional Compensation to match the amount of the Union’s request for a ‘contingent’ compensation buy out of up to $950. While the Companies have held to their position that there will be no ‘contingent’ compensation, the Companies have proposed a schedule of “Additional Compensation” that largely matches SAG-AFTRA’s last demand, including the total aggregated figure and the number of sessions necessary to earn that amount. This offer, too, must be ratified by December 1 to become effective.

Summary of Interactive Companies’ Prior Proposals
As of 10/18/2016

Provided the IMA is ratified by December 1, 2016, Performers shall receive Additional Compensation for work on a program of up to $900 as follows:

  • 1 Session, $0 Incremental
  • 2 Sessions, $50 Incremental ($50 in aggregate)
  • 3 Sessions, $100 Incremental ($150 in aggregate)
  • 4 Sessions, $100 Incremental ($250 in aggregate)
  • 5 Sessions, $150 Incremental ($400 in aggregate)
  • 6 Sessions, $150 Incremental ($550 in aggregate)
  • 7 Sessions, $150 Incremental ($700 in aggregate)
  • 8 Sessions, $200 Incremental ($900 in aggregate)
  • 9 Sessions or more, $0 ($900 in aggregate)

Such additional compensation shall be paid no later than the release date.  Overscale compensation may be credited against these bonus payments.  Such Additional Compensation payments are subject to benefit contributions up to the ceiling.  Additional Compensation payments are excluded from Total Applicable Base Compensation.

Interactive Programs comprised of 10 or fewer sessions in the aggregate shall not be subject to the foregoing additional compensation.

SAG-AFTRA Response
10/18/2016

Proposed two options:

“Option “A”: Principal Performers may be engaged with no prepayment of contingent compensation, in which case each Performer whose performance is included in the Interactive Program shall be entitled to a Secondary Payment for each 2,000,000 units sold or unique subscribers (when games are not sold by units) up to a total of 4 Secondary Payments.  Each Secondary Payment shall be based upon 25% of scale for each session worked by the Performer, up to a maximum of 4 sessions (100% scale)”

Option B: Deemed a prepayment of Option A money.  Structure is similar to Companies’ proposal but includes an additional $50 at “1 Session” level (aggregate capped at $950) and payment to be made at the same time as the session payment

Agreed that Interactive Programs comprised of 10 or fewer sessions in the aggregate shall not be subject to the foregoing additional compensation.

Companies’ Comprehensive Revised and Enhanced Final Package Proposal
(written proposal 10/19/2016)

Reasserted and improved Companies’ proposal for Additional Compensation by adding an additional $50 to the “8 Sessions” level (thereby matching the maximum aggregate Additional Compensation of $950 from Company’s response)

Pension and Health Contributions

The Companies agreed to the Union’s request for a 0.5% increase and have agreed in principal regarding which of the benefit plans the money should be directed to.

Summary of Interactive Companies’ Prior Proposals
As of 10/18/2016

Proposed a 0.5% increase and specific contractual language concerning SAG Pension and Health Plans

SAG-AFTRA Response
10/18/2016

Proposed a 0.5% increase, but revised contractual language re specific contractual language

Companies’ Comprehensive Revised and Enhanced Final Package Proposal
(written proposal 10/19/2016)

Agreement on 0.5% increase; proposed parties work with ERISA counsel to reach agreement on specific contractual language

Vocal Stress Issues

After the Union rejected the Companies’ proposals concerning modifying voice over sessions to mitigate any risk of vocal stress, the parties agreed on forming a joint cooperative committee to study vocal stress issues.

Summary of Interactive Companies’ Prior Proposals
As of 10/18/2016

Companies’ proposed:

  • Split Session: If Company reasonably believes that a session may be vocally challenging for a 4-hour session, it may be scheduled in advance as 2 two-hour portions; the second two-hour portion shall be within 5 business days of the first.
  • New Off-Camera Rate: if a Performer is booked with three performers or more for recording at the same session, each may be hired or a session of 6 hours at a rate of $1000 for the day, in order to rotate vocally stressful work.
  • Increased Cooperation / Cooperative Committee: Parties agree to more proactive cooperation in the establishment of “best practices”
  • Savings Clause: Parties to reopen agreement in the event Cal-OSHA rules on vocal stress”
SAG-AFTRA Response
10/18/2016

Union responded as follows:

  • Split Session: Union rejects proposal.
  • New Off-Camera Rate: revises language to be consistent with existing rates and sessions already allowed under expired IMA
  • Increased Cooperation/Cooperative Committee: Agreed
  • Savings Clause: Agreed

Withdrew “Union proposal #7 Vocally Stressful Sessions requiring such sessions to be no longer than 2 hours but paid at the 4-hour rate.

Companies’ Comprehensive Revised and Enhanced Final Package Proposal
(written proposal 10/19/2016)

Companies responded as follows:

  • Split Session: In light of Union’s rejection of this proposal, Companies withdrew.
  • New Off-Camera Rate: in light of Union’s rejection of this proposal, Companies withdrew.
  • Increased Cooperation / Cooperative Committee: Agreed
  • Savings Clause: Agreed

Stunt Coordination

The expired Interactive Media Agreement between the Companies and SAG-AFTRA already provides for a stunt coordinator to be on site for sessions that include stunts. While SAG-AFTRA made no new proposals in this area, it did seek further clarification about the use of stunt coordinators and both sides agreed to continue those discussions through the cooperative committee during the term of the new agreement.

Summary of Interactive Companies’ Prior Proposals
As of 10/18/2016

Existing IMA already provided for a Stunt Coordinator to be on site for sessions that include stunts.

SAG-AFTRA Response
10/18/2016

Revised its Discussion Item by referring the issue of stunt coordination to a Cooperative Committee

Companies’ Comprehensive Revised and Enhanced Final Package Proposal
(written proposal 10/19/2016)

Companies agreed and committed to continue their past safety practices

Transparency

The Union’s proposal requested additional up front information when booking performers in video games to know more information (game title name, new role or a reprise of a previous role). The Companies enhanced their proposal to agree to provide the code name of the project and whether the performer will be asked to reprise a previous role. While SAG-AFTRA contends that the video game industry is the only industry not to require an employer to reveal the name of the project on which a performer is working, SAG-AFTRA has no such requirement in Television, Theatrical Motion Pictures or Animation agreements.

Summary of Interactive Companies’ Prior Proposals
As of 10/18/2016

Existing IMA already provided for a “full and forthright description of the role to be played…such description should include the length of the Performer’s role, use of unusual terminology, whether memorization is required and whether cue cards or other prompting devices will be used.”

Responded to Union’s proposal for additional information regarding the Interactive Program and committed to provide the following additional data points (to the extent known at the time of booking):

  • the description of genre of the Interactive Program (as (1) fighting/shooter/RPG, (2) Simulation/Racing/Sports, or (3) Puzzle/Casual/Kids & Family/Strategy);
  • use of profanity, content of sexual or violent nature, racial slurs, and
  • whether stunts will be required
SAG-AFTRA Response
10/18/2016

In addition to Companies’ proposal, Union reasserted desire to receive notice of the title of the program at time of booking and allowance for performers and agents to be placed under Non-Disclosure Agreements.

Companies’ Comprehensive Revised and Enhanced Final Package Proposal
(written proposal 10/19/2016)

Reasserted and enhanced Companies’ proposal by agreeing that Companies shall also provide the agent or performer (to the extent known at time of booking and subject to a Non-Disclosure Agreement):

  • the code name of the project and
  • whether the performer is being asked to reprise his/her role from a prior Interactive Program

Limited Integration

The Companies’ current proposal includes wage increases for most performers and additional avenues for compensation that could yield many hundreds of dollars more in payments for limited integration and ratification bonuses.

Summary of Interactive Companies’ Prior Proposals
As of 10/18/2016

Addressed the de minimis use of existing “Integration” buy-out, by proposing a “Limited Integration” buy-out:

Company may elect to utilize a “Limited Integration” buy-out of a Performer’s work in any other program as follows:

  • for each 300 lines bought out, the payment shall be the then current applicable scale rate.
  • For example, if Company buys out 600 lines for Limited Integration, then the payment would be 2 X the then current applicable scale rate. Limited Integration payments are applied to subsequent Integration buyouts.
SAG-AFTRA Response
10/18/2016

Revised the Companies Proposal by deleting “300 lines” and replacing it with “session from which a Performer’s work is taken.”  Also proposes that Company must verify the session date of the material to be reused.

Companies’ Comprehensive Revised and Enhanced Final Package Proposal
(written proposal 10/19/2016)

Modified Companies’ proposal by limiting Limited Integration buy-out to within a particular franchise (i.e., “if Limited Integration is paid, the material may be used in any or all Programs of a franchise”)

Other Provisions

As part of the negotiations, the Companies and the Union also discussed the “most favored nations” (“MFN”) clause that had been included in the existing IMA and prior interactive media agreements, and the timeliness of cast clearances.  While the Companies agreed to the Union’s proposal on clearances (with a condition noted in the chart), the Companies were unwilling to remove the MFN.

Summary of Interactive Companies’ Prior Proposals
As of 10/18/2016
SAG-AFTRA Response
10/18/2016

Proposed removing MFN in IMA

Companies’ Comprehensive Revised and Enhanced Final Package Proposal
(written proposal 10/19/2016)

Rejected proposal to removal of the MFN in IMA

Summary of Interactive Companies’ Prior Proposals
As of 10/18/2016

Requested 24-hours response and acknowledgement that failure to respond grants clearance

SAG-AFTRA Response
10/18/2016

Modified Companies’ proposal: instead of 24 hours, 1 business day provided Producer utilizes the mutually agreed upon electronic clearance system (currently in development)

Companies’ Comprehensive Revised and Enhanced Final Package Proposal
(written proposal 10/19/2016)

Accepted Union proposal subject to the mutual agreement of the parties regarding the currently-in-development electronic clearance system.

Summary

Except for the label on the Companies’ ‘Additional Compensation’ proposal, there are no significant material differences between the Companies’ final proposal and the Union’s last proposal.  The wages, additional compensation, pension and health contributions, vocal stress, stunt coordination, and transparency proposals are almost identical.

“The Union negotiating committee’s continued public positioning of workplace safety as a rationale for striking these pro-Union Companies is disingenuous and paternalistic,” Witlin said.  “SAG-AFTRA should allow its affected members to vote on the Companies’ final proposal and determine for themselves whether the semantic difference that does exist between “additional compensation” and “residual” is worth the costs of a strike.”

Union and Companies withdrew their respective proposals in other areas and are in tentative agreement on Length of Contract Term and the Professional Conduct Provisions