Frances Fisher joins members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) to picket outside of Universal Studios on May 5, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Michael Buckner/Variety via Getty Images)

SAG-AFTRA fails to reach agreement, national council to vote Thursday on strike

The actors are likely to join the writers on strike.

The Screen Actors Guild Negotiating Committee (SAG-AFTRA) voted unanimously to recommend a halt to work against the studios after the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) together failed to reach a agreement on a new minimum bargaining deal ahead of their current contract expiring by midnight PT. Their current contract was set to expire on June 30, but the two sides have extended talks until July 12 in a bid to avoid a strike.

A strike has not yet been called. The national council of SAG-AFTRA will meet on Thursday morning to vote on whether to strike. The union will hold a press conference July 13 at 12:00 PT at the SAG-AFTRA Plaza in Los Angeles following the conclusion of the National Council vote.

If the actors go on strike, while the writers have shut down most of the productions, it will lead to the closure of virtually all productions in Hollywood and internationally and threatens to delay or interrupt the Emmys, upcoming movie premieres and others award shows or film festivals depending on the length of the strike.

The guild’s main demands included improved residues, higher minimum wages and regulations on self-recorded auditions, as well as guardrails on the use of AI. The guild said the AMPTP was unwilling to reach an equitable agreement on key issues.

“SAG-AFTRA negotiated in good faith and was eager to reach an agreement that sufficiently addressed artists’ needs, but AMPTP’s responses to the union’s most prominent proposals have been hurtful and disrespectful to our massive contributions to this industry ,” union president Fran Drescher said in a statement. “Companies have refused to engage in any meaningful way on some topics and have completely stymied us on others. Until they negotiate in good faith, we can’t begin to reach an agreement. We have no choice but to move forward united, and on behalf of our members, with a strike recommendation to our national council. The board will discuss the matter this morning and make its decision.”

National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said: “Studios and streamers have implemented massive one-sided business model changes to our industry, while insisting we keep our contracts frozen in amber. This is not how you treat a valued and respected partner and essential collaborator. Their refusal to meaningfully engage with our key propositions and fundamental disrespect shown to our members is what has brought us to this point. Studios and streamers have underestimated the determination of our members, as they are about to fully discover.

“We are deeply disappointed that SAG-AFTRA has decided to abandon the negotiations. This is the Union’s choice, not ours,’ the AMPTP said in a statement. auditions, shortened series option periods, an innovative AI proposition that protects digital likenesses of actors, and more.Rather than continuing to negotiate, SAG-AFTRA has set us on a path that will exacerbate financial hardship for thousands of people who depend on industry for their livelihood”.

Negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP started on 7 June. Before negotiations began, members approved a vote to authorize the strike with nearly 98% of participating members saying they would be willing to participate in pickets, which gave SAG-AFTRA additional leverage as it entered the talks. More recently, thousands of actors signed a letter he targeted the SAG leadership by stating that they were both willing to strike and willing to “make sacrifices that the leadership is not” to secure a transformative deal.

The agency’s heavyweights also made last-minute pleas to avert a strike, with WME’s Ari Emanuel, CAA’s Bryan Lourd and UTA’s Jeremy Zimmer all calling on SAG-AFTRA’s leadership offering their support as potential brokers. And on Wednesday, both sides agreed to a third-party federal mediator in an attempt to avert a strike, ultimately without success.

The actors last went on strike against the studios in 1980 for three months and three days in a scuffle over home video leftovers, one that shut down film and television production and even saw actors boycott the Emmys.

It will now likely be a strike by two guilds, something that hasn’t happened for 63 years, with writers having been on strike for over two months since 1 May. The writers’ strike has already disrupted the development and production of many new shows. and the films were temporarily or indefinitely suspended until a strike ended, and many writers and showrunners had their master agreements with the studios suspended.

While there was a threat that all three major corporations could find themselves on the picket line, the DGA reached its tentative agreement with the studios on June 4, and despite vocal dissent from some hyphenated writer-directors, joining the DGA officially ratified the new agreement on June 23 with 87% of the 6,728 members who voted choosing to ratify it.