SAG-AFTRA, the union representing screen actors, has announced that it will go on strike starting Thursday at midnight. This decision marks a significant event for the entertainment industry and will shut down any remaining film and television production that is still ongoing amid the ongoing writers' strike. It is considered the most widespread work stoppage in Hollywood in over 60 years.
The union's national board voted unanimously to go on strike after SAG-AFTRA's contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) expired without reaching a deal. The strike had been anticipated as the union's negotiations committee had already recommended a strike ahead of the board's vote.
The reasons for the strike include unresolved issues regarding streaming pay and artificial intelligence (AI). SAG-AFTRA argues that the studios left them with no alternative after weeks of negotiations. The AMPTP expressed disappointment at the strike, stating that it would lead to financial hardship for many who depend on the industry.
The strike is expected to impact all film and television production that involves SAG-AFTRA members, even outside the U.S. Additionally, actors will be barred from promotional work such as attending red carpets or doing press for their productions.
SAG-AFTRA has approximately 160,000 members, although not all of them will be affected by the strike. Some members, like broadcast journalists, work under a different contract.
The strike is likely to have immediate consequences, such as impacting San Diego Comic-Con and potentially postponing the Emmy Awards. It may also lead to the delay of film releases in 2024 if the strike continues for an extended period.
This strike comes as the Writers Guild of America strike has been ongoing since May. Both unions are seeking stronger protections in their contracts regarding AI and higher residual payments for streaming work.
The last time both actors and writers' unions went on strike was in 1960. The actors' strike lasted for just over a month, while the writers' strike went on for 153 days.
Disney CEO Bob Iger expressed concern about the strikes, stating that they are coming at a challenging time for the industry as it recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP have been ongoing, and a federal mediator was called in to assist.