The actors are likely set to join the writers on strike.
The Screen Actors Guild’s (SAG-AFTRA) negotiating committee has voted unanimously to recommend a work stoppage against the studios after the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) together failed to reach a deal on a new minimum bargaining agreement ahead of their current contract expiring by midnight PT. Their current contract was meant to expire on June 30, but the two sides extended talks until July 12 in an effort to avert a strike.
A strike hasn’t been called just yet. SAG-AFTRA’s National Board will meet on Thursday morning to vote on whether to strike. The union will hold a press conference July 13, at 12 noon PT at SAG-AFTRA Plaza in Los Angeles, following the conclusion of the National Board vote.
If the actors start their strike, while the writers have halted a majority of productions, it will lead to virtually all production shutting down across Hollywood and internationally and threatens to delay or disrupt the Emmys, upcoming movie premieres, and other awards shows or film festivals depending on the length of the strike.
The guild’s major demands included improved residuals, higher minimum wages, and regulations around self-taped auditions, as well as guardrails around the use of AI. The guild said the AMPTP remained unwilling to reach a fair deal on key issues.
“SAG-AFTRA negotiated in good faith and was eager to reach a deal that sufficiently addressed performer needs, but the AMPTP’s responses to the union’s most important proposals have been insulting and disrespectful of our massive contributions to this industry,” union president Fran Drescher said in a statement. “The companies have refused to meaningfully engage on some topics and on others completely stonewalled us. Until they do negotiate in good faith, we cannot begin to reach a deal. We have no choice but to move forward in unity, and on behalf of our membership, with a strike recommendation to our National Board. The board will discuss the issue this morning and will make its decision.”
National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said, “The studios and streamers have implemented massive unilateral changes in our industry’s business model, while at the same time insisting on keeping our contracts frozen in amber. That’s not how you treat a valued, respected partner and essential contributor. Their refusal to meaningfully engage with our key proposals and the fundamental disrespect shown to our members is what has brought us to this point. The studios and streamers have underestimated our members’ resolve, as they are about to fully discover.”
“We are deeply disappointed that SAG-AFTRA has decided to walk away from negotiations. This is the Union’s choice, not ours,” the AMPTP said in a statement. “In doing so, it has dismissed our offer of historic pay and residual increases, substantially higher caps on pension and health contributions, audition protections, shortened series option periods, a groundbreaking AI proposal that protects actors’ digital likenesses, and more. Rather than continuing to negotiate, SAG-AFTRA has put us on a course that will deepen the financial hardship for thousands who depend on the industry for their livelihoods.”
Negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP began on June 7. Before negotiations began, members approved a strike authorization vote with nearly 98 percent of members who participated saying they’d be willing to hit the picket lines, which gave SAG-AFTRA added leverage heading into talks. More recently, thousands of actors signed a letter aimed at SAG leadership saying they were both willing to strike and willing to “make sacrifices that leadership is not” in order to get a transformative deal.
Agency heavyweights also made last-minute pleas to avert a strike, with Ari Emanuel of WME, Bryan Lourd of CAA, and Jeremy Zimmer of UTA all making calls to SAG-AFTRA leadership offering their support as potential mediators. And on Wednesday, both sides agreed to a federal, third party mediator in an attempt to avert a strike, ultimately to no avail.
The actors last went on strike against the studios back in 1980 for three months and three days in a fight over home video residuals, one that shut down film and TV production and even saw actors boycotting the Emmys.
It will now likely be a two-guild strike, something that hasn’t happened for 63 years, with the writers having been on strike for over two months since May 1. The writers strike has already halted development, and production on many new shows and movies has been either temporarily or indefinitely put on hold until a strike is over, and many writers and showrunners have seen their overall deals with studios suspended.
While there was a threat that all three of the major guilds could find themselves on the picket line, the DGA reached their own tentative deal with the studios back on June 4, and despite some vocal dissent from some hyphenate writers-directors, DGA membership officially ratified the new deal on June 23 with 87 percent of the 6,728 members who voted choosing to ratify it.