The race to become the new president of the Hollywood-based Screen Actors Guild is nearing an end, as current president Melissa Gilbert has indicated she will not be seeking re-election, frustrated at intra-Guild conflicts. The leaders of those factions are currently vying for the position, which will be decided in a Friday election, and which may have some long-term effects for video game creators.
The two main camps are supporters of candidate Morgan Fairchild, who has favored a moderate approach in contract dealings, such as those between video game publishers and voice actors, and the Membership First group, led by Alan Rosenberg. The Membership First camp takes a harder line against concessions, and was largely responsible for rejecting the initial agreement
between the guild and game companies earlier this year, even after it had been approved by the SAG negotiation team as well as the AFTRA.
In addition to the position of president, 24 of the 69 board seats on the guild are up for election, and the Membership First group is also trying to take control of the vacant seats. Membership First will field 33 candidates, roughly three times the number of Fairchild supporters running for the same positions.
"If the militants win, the studios are more likely to prepare for a possible strike," said labor attorney Bernard Gold, talking to the Los Angeles Times. However, since the videogame industry has only just struck a new contract with the SAG, which isn't due to expire until December 31, 2008, it's unlikely that the result of the elections will have short-term consequences for videogames, though it may present issues for other Hollywood creators.
Nonetheless, in the longer term, a Membership First leadership could result in more pro-active responses to calls for royalties on video game voice acting, and the prospect of a harsh renegotiation process as the current contract nears its end in 2008.