Hollywood actors join writers and announce their first strike since 1980

SAG-AFTRA, a union representing about 160.000 Hollywood actors, formally announced a strike after talks with major studios and streaming services failed.

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SAG-AFTRA, a union representing about 160.000 Hollywood actors, formally announced a strike after talks with major studios and streaming services failed. It is the first time its members have stopped work on movie and television productions since 1980, after failing to reach an agreement in two talks held on Wednesday and Thursday.

“SAG-AFTRA negotiated in good faith and was eager to reach a deal that sufficiently addressed performer needs, but the AMPTP’s responses to the union’s most important proposals have been insulting and disrespectful of our massive contributions to this industry. 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. We have no choice but to move forward in unity, and on behalf of our membership, with a strike recommendation to our National Board. The board will discuss the issue this morning and will make its decision,”  said Fran Drescher, President of SAG-AFTRA, before Thursday's talks.

National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, added: “The studios and streamers have implemented massive unilateral changes in our industry’s business model, while at the same time insisting on keeping our contracts frozen in amber. That is not how you treat a valued, respected partner and essential contributor. Their refusal to meaningfully engage with our key proposals and the fundamental disrespect shown to our members is what has brought us to this point. The studios and streamers have underestimated our members’ resolve, as they are about to fully discover.”

With this strike, which will begin late Thursday at midnight, SAG-AFTRA will join the more than 11.000 members of the Writers Guild of America, who have been on strike against the same studios since the start of May. That strike had already halted production of most movies and scripted television programs. Now, with the actors joining the writers on strike, the shutdowns could stretch through the summer and perhaps even persist through the end of the year. That action could bring most of the remaining productions to a halt, with the exception of some independent films not associated with major studios.

On the other hand, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) shared its own statement, arguing that the decision was the union’s choice. “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,”  the statement read.