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SAG-AFTRA is ready to go back to the table

Terms of the deal could be made public soon — meanwhile, SAG-AFTRA officials talked to Scripps News about their hopes for new developments.
SAG-AFTRA is ready to go back to the table
Posted at 5:46 PM, Sep 26, 2023

Not since 1960 have the actors and writers been on strike together, but this week it may come to an end, for one side at least. On Sunday the Writers Guild of America released a joint statement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers containing only one sentence:

“The WGA and AMPTP have reached a tentative agreement.” 

The terms of the deal are expected to be released soon. Where does this leave the actors union? SAG-AFTRA’s National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland told Scripps News that he talks to his counterpart at the AMPTP often, but there has been no official communication between the two sides since negotiations initially broke down in early July. 

“I certainly hope that this portends a quick return to the table with us, and with the companies in a mindset of making a respectful deal for our members, so that we can bring the strike to an end and get everyone back to work,” Crabtree-Ireland said.

The actors strike began on July 14 when the AMPTP rejected and failed to counter SAG-AFTRA’s proposals for equitable and fair wages and implementing guardrails against AI. 

“As we've all seen over the last 12 to 18 months, generative AI has come out of nowhere to become something that everyone in the world is talking about. And everyone in the world is rightly concerned about the kind of impacts it's going to have on people's jobs and lives. And for our members, even more so because this AI technology is being used to take their voices, their faces, their images, their likenesses and replicate it, and not just take away their jobs, potentially, but own their image and likeness and use it in ways that they never would have agreed to and didn't ever do,” said Crabtree-Ireland.

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Jill Hennessy began her career as a background actor in New York, and was able to work her way up to lead roles. She sees the advent of AI as a threat to the success of future actors. 

“If things continue the way they are, you can be scanned for one day’s pay, and you’ll never be hired for that job again because your digitized image will now be used in perpetuity,” Hennessy said. 

The actors are prepared to stand firm no matter how long it takes to reach a deal. SAG-AFTRA strike captain Marc Baron has been out on the line two days a week every week since the start of the strike. 

“We’ve gone this far. Let’s not give up,” Baron said. “We’re going to keep going. Hopefully we’ll have a deal before it gets really bitter cold, but we’ll be out here.”

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