Hollywood actors are set to join writers striking on the picket line after union talks broke down this week.
Following a break down in negotiations between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and the US actors’ union SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild–American Federation of Television and Radio Artists), the latter’s national board of directors voted unanimously today (July 13) to joining writers by going on strike, according to The Los Angeles Times.
It will mark the first time in more than 60 years that actors and writers have gone on strike simultaneously.
Here is everything we know about why actors are poised to strike this week.
Why are actors striking?
SAG-AFTRA – Hollywood’s largest union, which represents 160,000 actors and performers – and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) are seeking an increase in base pay and residuals in the age of streaming, while other negotiations relate to safeguards against the unregulated use of artificial intelligence in the industry.
The WGA strike, which began on May 2, occurred following unsuccessful negotiations with AMPTP, who represent major Hollywood studios like Netflix, Disney, Apple, Amazon, Paramount, Warner Bros. and others.
Since the writers’ strike was announced, a number of films and TV shows have shut down production in solidarity. You can find out which have been affected here.
Now, actors will be joining their industry peers on the picket line. The BBC reports that striking actors could be in the tens of thousands.
What happens next?
According to reports actors could join the picket line as early as Friday (July 14).
Despite the involvement of a federal mediator, a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers was not secured.
At a news conference in California today, the union’s executive director and chief negotiator said the strike is “an instrument of last resort (via BBC), adding: “They’ve left us with no alternative.”
The AMPTP said in a statement that “a strike is certainly not the outcome we hoped for as studios cannot operate without the performers that bring our TV shows and films to life”.
“The Union has regrettably chosen a path that will lead to financial hardship for countless thousands of people who depend on the industry,” it added.
The actors’ guild president, Fran Drescher, previously released a statement which said: “The companies have refused to meaningfully engage on some topics and on others completely stonewalled us. Until they do negotiate in good faith, we cannot begin to reach a deal.”
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the group representing the studios, said in a statement: “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.”
It added that, instead of pushing ahead with negotiations, “SAG-AFTRA has put us on a course that will deepen the financial hardship for thousands who depend on the industry for their livelihoods”.
In a letter to SAG-AFTRA members, Drescher told actors to be prepared to join the picket line after today’s vote, which was announced at a press conference.
“As you know, over the past decade, your compensation has been severely eroded by the rise of the streaming ecosystem,” Drescher wrote. “Furthermore, artificial intelligence poses an existential threat to creative professions, and all actors and performers deserve contract language that protects them from having their identity and talent exploited without consent and pay.”
Whilst gracing the pink carpet, #Barbie star Margot Robbie said she supports the actors' strike and all the unions, and would be prepared to join the picket lines.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) July 13, 2023
“I’m obviously on board and part of SAG and I’m definitely in support of all unions so I hope everyone reaches an agreement they’re happy with,” she told journalist Natalie Jamieson.
Cillian Murphy and Emily Blunt then left the premiere as the strike was called, according to Nolan.
He went on: “And 26,000 bucks a year is what you have to make to get your health insurance. And there are a lot of people whose residual payments are what carry them across that threshold. And if those residual payments dry up, so does their health care. And that’s absolutely unacceptable. We can’t have that. So, we got to figure out something that is fair.”