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Hollywood actors guild authorizes strike as writers continue theirs

SAG-AFTRA voted to authorize a strike at the end of the month if major Hollywood studios won't negotiate their contract terms.
Hollywood actors guild authorizes strike as writers continue theirs
Posted at 3:58 PM, Jun 06, 2023

Thousands of actors may stop working at the end of June if their negotiations with Hollywood studios don't end with new contracts.

On Monday night, members of Hollywood's actors union, SAG-AFTRA, voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, just two days before the guild was supposed to start labor contract negotiations with major studios on Wednesday. Almost 65,000 members cast a ballot, with about 98% voting in support of striking.

This result was expected, but it doesn't automatically mean the strike will happen. It does, however, empower the guild's national board to call for a strike if studio negotiations with AMPTP, or the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, fail by June 30, when actors' current contracts expire.

"We are approaching these negotiations with the goal of achieving a new agreement that is beneficial to SAG-AFTRA members and the industry overall," the AMPTP said in a statement.

The vote is a show of solidarity with the 11,500 writers who are currently in their sixth week of picketing. Their strike has disrupted multiple TV projects, including late-night talk shows and future projects, and if both unions band together, Hollywood could come to a near full-stop.

SEE MORE: Studios scramble to replace fan-favorite shows during writers' strike

"Together we lock elbows and in unity we build a new contract that honors our contributions in this remarkable industry, reflects the new digital and streaming business model and brings ALL our concerns for protections and benefits into the now!" SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said in a statement.

Both SAG-AFTRA and striking members of the WGA — the Writers Guild of America — are asking for similar contract amendments. 

Both want increased pay and residual payments, as many say wages haven't kept up with the evolving streaming landscape and the current state of the economy. They also both want to be protected from the use of artificial intelligence in production, whether it be using the actors' likeness or A.I. replacing a writer's job altogether.

"As we enter what may be one of the most consequential negotiations in the union's history, inflation, dwindling residuals due to streaming, and generative AI all threaten actors' ability to earn a livelihood if our contracts are not adapted to reflect the new realities," said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA national executive director and chief negotiator.

On Saturday, the Directors Guild of America, which represents 19,000 directors, reached a "truly historic deal" with studios on similar requests.

"It provides significant improvements for every director, assistant director, unit production manager, associate director and stage manager in our guild," said Jon Avnet, chair of the guild's negotiations committee.

Though representatives for the WGA and SAG-AFTRA congratulated the directors' guild, some writers expressed concern, as the move seemed to echo what happened during the last writers' strike in 2007. Then, directors made their own deal, which some writers said forced them to fall into line with the same terms.

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