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Here’s What You Should Know About the Actors’ Strike

SAG-AFTRA is going on strike as of Thursday afternoon after four weeks of negotiations. It’s the first time the union has called a strike for this contract in 40 years. The union that represents some 160,000 working performers across many media called the strike on July 13. This news comes after the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) failed to meet the guild’s requests for more fair compensation, among other items. President Fran Drescher and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland shared the announcement in a press conference. They explained they had hoped the union would not be forced to strike.

SAG-AFTRA’s contract expired on June 30, then received an extension through July 12, but AMPTP wouldn’t budge. SAG-AFTRA will be on strike as of midnight July 14. The Screen Actors Guild will join the Writers Guild of America (the WGA) on the picket lines. That union has been on strike since May 2 after the AMPTP failed to meet their proposals for better compensation and equity for its members. Here’s what you should know about the SAG-AFTRA strike.

Why Is SAG-AFTRA Striking?

SAG-AFTRA’s negotiating committee made requests for its members on numerous points from AMPTP, who negotiates on behalf of Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Discovery-Warner, NBC Universal, Paramount, and Sony. As with the WGA strike, the change in the content business model to favor streaming plays a huge role in negotiations. Streaming has had a negative impact on actor residuals. Additionally, the union has concerns about the use of generative AI technology and the transfer of audition costs to the actors with the increasing call for self-taped auditions.

Crabtree-Ireland explained during SAG-AFTRA’s press conference that one of the AMPTP’s proposals was that member background actors should “be able to be scanned, get paid for one day’s pay, and their company should own that scan, their image, their likeness and to be able to use it for the rest of eternity in any project they want with no consent and no compensation.”

What Does the SAG-AFTRA Strike Mean?

A logo spelling out SAG-AFTRA on strike
SAG-AFTRA

The strike applies to performers working under SAG-AFTRA’s 2020 TV/theatrical contract. Union members cannot work on set or promote current or past series. For example, the Oppenheimer cast left the UK premiere as SAG-AFTRA announced the strike. SAG-AFTRA issued a strike notice to its members about what they can and cannot do. Crabtree-Ireland noted members cannot participate in panels, Emmy campaigns, or promote projects on social media. The upcoming San Diego Comic-Con, which has become a key promotional event for many studios, will look very different.

The strike means work ceases immediately. Some filming for already written series or films has continued since the WGA strike began in May. Now, however, the Hollywood machine will essentially stop. Some series, like House of the Dragon, have casts who are filming under different contracts. The UK production, like most in that country, is under Actor’s Equity rather than SAG-AFTRA. Many productions will pause, though, and we will see emptier content schedules in the near future. This will continue until AMPTP returns to the negotiating table with SAG-AFTRA and WGA.

Get more details about picket schedules and more at SAG-AFTRA’s site.

Originally published on July 13, 2023.

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