SAG-AFTRA Calls Strike: Actors Join Writers after “Insulting” Offer from Studios

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SAG-AFTRA Calls Strike: Actors Join Writers after “Insulting” Offer from Studios

Joining the Writers Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has voted to strike, protesting what SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher calls “insulting and disrespectful” responses to their union’s proposals. This will be the first time actors and writers have been on strike together since 1960. The strike begins at midnight.

The news comes on the heels of an outrageous statement by an Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers studio executive, who told Deadline, “The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses.”

The greed, hubris and cruelty being weaponized are only further put into perspective by the key issues of the negotiations. Looking to increase streaming residuals for workers (in a world increasingly dependent on streaming) and to implement contractual protections against the prevalent threat of AI (which can be used to plagiarize writing or ape identities and voices, among other uses), the union was met with what Drescher says were claims of studio “poverty.”

“There was nothing there,” she said of the studios’ offer.

SAG chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland explained that the studio’s proposal around AI was, uh, not what the actors were after: “They proposed that our background actors should be able to be scanned, get paid for one day’s pay, and their company should own that scan, their image, their likeness and to be able to use it for the rest of eternity in any project they want with no consent and no compensation.”

The strike vote comes after a negotiation process that had been extended from June 30 until yesterday, July 12. A federal mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service joined talks for a single day, though this was recognized by the union as a “cynical ploy to engineer an extension when the companies have had more than enough time to make a fair deal.”

While some productions have been attempting to stay in progress during the WGA strike, SAG-AFTRA’s strike will add the heft of 160,000 workers (and many recognizable faces) to a cause increasingly winning the favor of public opinion in the wake of disastrous PR moves and crass business decisions by some of Hollywood’s most powerful.

Meanwhile, the Directors Guild of America signed a new contract on June 26.

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