Actors Nearing Strike Along With Writers, Hollywood Shutting Down?

The Screen Actors Guild has voted to strike if negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers don't go well at the end of June.

By Charlene Badasie | Published

actors strike

The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) — have voted in favor of a strike if negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) fail when their contracts expire on June 30. The union represents a wide group of professionals, including over 160,000 screen actors, hosts, broadcast journalists, announcers, and stunt performers.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the decision was reached during a referendum that lasted just over two weeks. While the “yes” vote does not immediately trigger an actors’ strike, it allows SAG-AFTRA’s top negotiators to call for a work stoppage when the time is right. Approximately 65,000 thousand members voted, for a turnout of 48%.

Following the actors’ strike vote, SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher told union members she was incredibly proud. “Together we lock elbows, and in unity, we build a new contract that honors our contributions in this remarkable industry, reflects the new digital and streaming business model, and brings all our concerns for protections and benefits into the now!” she said in a statement.

The AMPTP released its own statement: “We are approaching these negotiations with the goal of achieving a new agreement that is beneficial to SAG-AFTRA members and the industry overall.” Talks between SAG-AFTRA and major studios are scheduled to begin on June 7, with union leaders prioritizing several vital objectives to prevent an actors’ strike.

SAG-AFTRA wants to incorporate contractual safeguards to address the growing impact of generative AI on the industry. Additionally, they seek to enhance member residuals and minimum rates due to the dominance of streaming platforms. Another crucial focus is on bolstering the union’s beleaguered health and pension plan. They also want more stringent guidelines for self-taped auditions.

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In a statement released on June 5, SAG-AFTRA’s National Executive Director, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, called out “inflation, dwindling residuals due to streaming, and generative AI” as direct threats. “This [actors] strike authorization means we enter our negotiations from a position of strength so that we can deliver the deal our members want and deserve,” he said.

There have been no new negotiations with the striking Writers Guild of America (WGA), representing 11,500 film and television staff. Their walkout has caused significant disruptions in the production of late-night shows and the suspension of prominent projects. This includes the new season of Netflix’s Stranger Things and a Game of Thrones spinoff for Warner Bros Discovery’s HBO.

While an actors’ strike looms, studios managed to avert another work stoppage by reaching a tentative deal with the Directors Guild of America (DGA). The pact will take effect in the coming weeks if DGA members vote to ratify it. Representatives for the WGA and SAG-AFTRA congratulated the DGA on their negotiations. However, neither group commented on specific aspects of the new contractual terms.

An actors’ strike would cause a more extensive shutdown across Hollywood and increase pressure on studios that need programming for their streaming services. Without new and engaging material, these platforms may experience a decline in viewership and ultimately face financial repercussions. The impact would also extend to the fall TV broadcast schedule, which relies on new programs to attract audiences.