Hollywood Actors Set to Launch Strike After Contract Talks End With No Deal

Hollywood actors walk the picket line outside Warner Bros. in Burbank with WGA members (Credit: Twitter/@sagaftra)

SAG-AFTRA, the union representing Hollywood actors, said early Thursday contract talks with studios and streamers had broken down and the union’s negotiating committee unanimously voted to recommend its national board call a strike.

The board will meet at 9 a.m. PT to decide on a work stoppage. The union plans to hold a news conference Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles to discuss what happens next.

SAG-AFTRA leaders emailed a statement to members just before 1 a.m. PT, to let them know there was no agreement on a new film and TV contract after a month of talks, even after a federal mediator was brought in over the last 24 hours to help.

“The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) — the entity that represents major studios and streamers, including Amazon, Apple, Disney, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount, Sony, and Warner Bros Discovery — remains unwilling to offer a fair deal on the key issues that you told us are important to you. Because of this, we’ve called for a meeting with our national board this morning to vote on a strike order,” read the statement from SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher and Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the union’s national executive director and chief negotiator.

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Among the issues on the table are residuals when streaming platforms re-play TV shows and movies, plus new rules to protect against artificial intelligence using an actor’s likeness and replacing their work.

The union’s three-year film and TV contract expired on June 30. The negotiations were then extended until 11:59 p.m. PT on July 12, 2023.

The AMPTP said it was “deeply disappointed” SAG-AFTRA negotiators had not agreed to extend the deadline again.

“This is the union’s choice, not ours. 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,” the AMPTP said in a statement. “SAG-AFTRA has put us on a course that will deepen the financial hardship for thousands who depend on the industry for their livelihoods.”

SAG-AFTRA leaders represent 160,000 members. Last month, the union said members voted by 97.91 percent to authorize a strike.

If the board greenlights a walkout, actors could join members of the Writers Guild of America on the picket lines as early as Friday.

It would be the industry’s first dual work stoppage since 1960.

The writers strike began on May 2. As a result, networks have filled their upcoming fall 2023 schedules with unscripted reality and competition shows.

The labor strife could also lead to the potential cancellation of award shows, movie premieres and press junkets.

Businesses across the country that supply catering, clothing, props, security services and transportation for productions would also be affected.