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Actors’ Strike to End as SAG-AFTRA and Studios Reach Deal

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Actors’ Strike to End as SAG-AFTRA and Studios Reach Deal

Picketers carry signs on the picket line outside Netflix in Los Angeles on Sept. 27, 2023. (Chris Pizzello/AP Photo)

Caden Pearson

Caden Pearson

11/8/2023

Updated: 11/9/2023

The prolonged Hollywood actors’ strike is set to end just after midnight on Wednesday after their union reached a tentative deal with major studios.
Actors will soon return to work after the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) announced the unanimous approval of a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).
This decision brings an end to 118 days of negotiations and picketing that paralyzed the U.S. entertainment industry.
The Writers’ Guild of America, which went on strike alongside actors in mid-July, previously reached its deal with major Hollywood studios first, enabling writers to get back to work.
In a statement, SAG-AFTRA emphasized the importance of the deal in addressing the industry-wide concerns that fueled the strike. The union expressed optimism that the negotiated terms would bring about positive changes for its members.
“We have arrived at a contract that will enable SAG-AFTRA members from every category to build sustainable careers,” the national board of SAG-AFTRA stated in a message to their members on X. “Many thousands of performers now and into the future will benefit from this work.”
Valued at over $1 billion, the contract represents a landmark achievement for SAG-AFTRA members, with “above-pattern” minimum compensation increases, groundbreaking provisions for consent and compensation to protect against artificial intelligence threats, and the introduction of a streaming participation bonus.
“Our Pension & Health caps have been substantially raised, which will bring much needed value to our plans,” the union stated.
The comprehensive deal includes a myriad of improvements across various categories, addressing the needs of background performers with substantial compensation increases and introducing critical contract provisions to protect diverse communities within the industry.
The national board of SAG-AFTRA is scheduled to convene on Friday to deliberate on the terms of the tentative deal. Details of the agreement will be disclosed after the board’s meeting.
The strike, initiated in mid-July, saw members of SAG-AFTRA walk off the job to call for higher minimum salaries, a better share of streaming service revenue, and protection against the looming threat of being replaced by artificial intelligence-generated “digital replicas.”
Negotiators from SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP, representing media giants such as Walt Disney and Netflix, reached a preliminary agreement on a new contract, marking a significant breakthrough in the negotiations.
The resolution paves the way for Hollywood to resume full-scale production for the first time since May, pending the approval of the deal by union members in the coming weeks.
The actors union has never been on a strike for this long, nor been on strike at all since before many of its members were born.
Actors have expressed relief that the strike will be over, noting that most are not wealthy, like “big celebrities,” who can afford not to be working amid the prolonged strike.
“I just really hope that it’s a fair deal,” actor Fanny Grande said in an interview.
Actors and Hollywood writers alike voiced concerns about compensation. Jobbing actors saw revenues from residuals dwindle with the rise of streaming platforms, making it challenging to earn a living wage, particularly in cities like Los Angeles and New York.
Streaming TV series also lacked the residual payments that actors enjoyed during the heyday of traditional broadcast television.
Moreover, performers became increasingly alarmed by the potential ramifications of artificial intelligence in the industry. The fear that studios could manipulate their likenesses without consent or replace human actors with digital counterparts added an extra layer of urgency to the negotiations.
Hollywood actors strikes have been less frequent and shorter than those by writers. The Screen Actors Guild (they added the “AFTRA” in a 2011 merger) has gone on strike against film and TV studios only three times in its history.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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