Saturday Night Live Employees Are Going On Strike

About 20 post-production employees at Saturday Night Live have gone on strike to expedite stalled contract negotiations with NBCUniversal.

By Charlene Badasie | Published

Saturday Night Live

Post-production employees at Saturday Night Live have authorized a strike. The move aims to expedite contract negotiations with NBCUniversal which stalled in December. The group of about 20 staff at the late-night show includes part-time and full-time editors, assistant editors, and media managers. They are represented by the Motion Pictures Editors Guild.

“The film workers at Saturday Night Live last year made it clear they want a union, and management acknowledged their wishes,” the Guild’s National Executive Director Cathy Repola, said via Deadline. “Therefore, it’s very disappointing that despite best efforts, there is still no framework for a contract.” She added that the union remains committed to getting a contract in place as soon as possible.

The strike authorization vote in support of a work stoppage doesn’t mean that Saturday Night Live staff will definitely put down their tools. Instead, it allows unions to use a potential walkout as leverage and call one if necessary. The pre-filmed segments, which included parodies of M3GAN and The White Lotus, were all still edited by the team for the most recent episode of the comedy sketch show.

saturday night live

However, the recently unionized Saturday Night Live staffers wore shirts that said “contract now” to accelerate the timeline. “We feel that the NBCUniversal labor team has not responded in a timely or substantial manner to address data points that were submitted,” one person from the group told The Hollywood Reporter after asking to remain anonymous.

The small Saturday Night Live post-production crew first won union recognition pursuant to a card-check agreement with NBCUniversal in October 2022, Variety reports. “This talented crew works at breakneck speed to ensure timely satire makes it to the screen each week,” Louis Bertini, Motion Pictures Editors Guild Second Vice President said at the time.

“We salute them for standing together to have a voice on the job,” he continued. Bertini added that a slew of talented people works behind the scenes to make Saturday Night Live a cultural touchstone. Most of these employees already enjoy the benefit of union contracts. Therefore, the Guild is glad that the new editorial employees will be joining the show’s unionized workforce.

NBCUniversal responded to the strike authorization vote by offering new dates for talks that may avoid a walkout. If the Saturday Night Live employees do eventually embark on strike, the show could probably continue without pre-taped segments. It will also be interesting to see how the late-night comedy show’s other unionized workers react to a picket line at 30 Rock.

Members of the Directors Guild of America, other IATSE Locals, and SAG-AFTRA all work on Saturday Night Live. Most guest hosts and musicians who frequent the line-up are also members of various entertainment unions. “The show works at such a fast pace, we know the company knows how to do things quickly and effectively,” the bargaining group told The Hollywood Reporter.

Now, these hard-working Saturday Night Live employees would like to see the same urgency in their contract negotiations. An offer made on January 13 was found to be unacceptable. Hopefully, a strike can be averted by the upcoming talks.