The strike is over, AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA reached a deal

The long-awaited clearing in the industry’s stormiest season in decades comes as a deal was reached to end what was, at nearly four months, the longest strike ever for film and television actors.

9 NOV 2023

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For the first time in over six months, neither Hollywood’s actors nor its writers will be on strike. The long-awaited clearing in the industry’s stormiest season in decades comes as a deal was reached late Wednesday to end what was, at nearly four months, the longest strike ever for film and television actors. The three-year contract must be approved by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists board and its members in the coming days. But union leadership declared that the strike ended at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, putting all of the parts of production back into action for the first time since spring.

"We are thrilled and proud to tell you that today, your TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee voted unanimously to approve a tentative agreement with the AMPTP. As of 12:01 am on November 9, our strike is officially suspended, and all picket locations are closed. We will be in touch in the coming days with information about celebration gatherings around the country. In a contract valued at over one billion dollars, we have achieved a deal of extraordinary scope that includes "above-pattern" minimum compensation increases, unprecedented provisions for consent and compensation that will protect members from the threat of AI, and, for the first time, establishes a streaming participation bonus. Our Pension & Health caps have been substantially raised, which will bring much needed value to our plans. In addition, the deal includes numerous improvements for multiple categories, including outsize compensation increases for background performers and critical contract provisions protecting diverse communities," SAG-AFTRA said in a statement.

More than 60,000 SAG-AFTRA members went on strike on July 14, joining screenwriters who had left the job more than two months earlier. It was the first time the two unions had been on strike together since 1960. The studios and writers reached a deal that brought their strike to an end on Sept. 26. "We have arrived at a contract enabling SAG-AFTRA members from every category to build sustainable careers. Many thousands of performers now and into the future will benefit from this work. Full details of the agreement will not be provided until the tentative agreement is reviewed by the SAG-AFTRA National Board. We also thank our union siblings -- the workers that power this industry -- for the sacrifices they have made while supporting our strike and that of the Writers Guild of America. We stand together in solidarity and will be there for you when you need us. Thank you all for your dedication, your commitment, and your solidarity throughout this strike. It is because of YOU that these improvements became possible," SAG-AFTRA added.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said in a statement late Wednesday that the tentative agreement "represents a new paradigm" and it looked forward to the industry "resuming the work of telling great stories." The deal "gives SAG-AFTRA the biggest contract-on-contract gains in the history of the union, including the largest increase in minimum wages in the last forty years; a brand new residual for streaming programs; extensive consent and compensation protections in the use of artificial intelligence; and sizable contract increases on items across the board," the AMPTP said.
The first dual-strike in Hollywood in 63 years brought the industry to a six-month standstill, one of the lengthiest work stoppages in the industry's history.

The union valued the deal at over a billion dollars. It said the deal includes boosts to minimum payments to actors, a greater share of streaming revenue going to performers, a bolstering of benefit plans, and protections against the unfettered use of artificial intelligence in recreating performances. Details of the terms will not be released until after a meeting on Friday where board members review the contract. The AI protections were a sticking point in the negotiations that had moved methodically, with long breaks for both sides to huddle, since they restarted on Oct. 24.

Executives from top entertainment companies, including Disney, Netflix, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Universal, had a direct hand in negotiations. Although the writer's strike had immediate, visible effects on viewers, including the months-long suspension of late-night talk shows and “ Saturday Night Live,” the impact of the actors’ absence was not as immediately apparent. But its ripple effects, delayed release dates, and waits for new show seasons could be felt for months or even years. Actors should quickly return to movie sets where productions were paused, including “Deadpool 3,” “Gladiator 2” and “Wicked.” Other movies and shows will restart shooting once returning writers finish scripts.

The strike was the second-longest in SAG history and the longest against the Hollywood studios. In 2000, the union went on strike for 182 days against the American Association of Advertising Agencies. Virtually all scripted content production had been shut down since July, when the actors' union joined the writers' guild on strike. That led to a cascade of production delays for both TV and films.
Late-night shows resumed shortly after the writer's strike ended — but it will still be months before scripted production picks up again, likely leading to even more film and TV production delays.

The strike took a financial toll on media giants and state production hubs. For example, Warner Bros. said the strike would wipe out as much as $500 million in earnings this year. Economists estimate the strikes will impact the U.S. economy at least $5 billion. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), representing below-the-line crew members such as set and costume designers, opens contract negotiations with the studios next year. An IATSE strike was narrowly averted in 2021 during the last round of labor talks. "Directors and their teams look forward to our industry getting back to work and collaborating with actors, writers, craftspeople, and crews to create film and television that entertains billions around the world," the DGA said in a statement.

The global content community has already reacted to the strike's end. “The end of the ongoing strikes is a relief to not only me but the entire film community. I have seen friends and co workers struggle to survive for months and the end of the strike is such a sense of relief to know that we will all be back to work soon. I stand with the actors and writers and am grateful to hear they reached an agreement for everyone to move forward. I know the impact on the crews globally took a massive hit over the last few months so it will be good to hopefully see a strong bounce back. I know that we will feel the effects of this lack of work for months to come in terms of what this new industry will look like. I am concerned that with the deficits and cost cutting that has been implemented will create less job opportunities but hopefully every crew member will look out for each other to make sure the work is spread around and everyone can resume making wonderful entertainment,”  Jenn Presser, Casting Director at Breakaway Casting (USA), said.

"This important fight between labour and multinational corporations has widened the door to ensure that our industry can meet the moment in being able to continue to make a living creating, working in, and producing content that is being consumed by a larger, wider, and global audience. No matter in what part of the world we are in, we are interacting with the same plight of a shifting culture of consuming content through the internet and the production of it using artificial intelligence. The strides that the writers' guild and the actors' guild have made in setting precedent for labour will have major ripples around the world. We thank them for their leadership," Shant Joshi, President of Fae Pictures (Canada), stated.

“The agreement reached by the guild and the studios is fantastic news for professionals worldwide. It is certain that neither side is one hundred percent happy with the outcome, but it is equally certain that this crisis has been resolved and has made everyone stronger. I am confident this will bolster the entire industry and allow audiences to see new, remarkable titles. I really want to believe that among them will be films and series about the struggle that Ukraine is currently facing,” Igor Storchak, producer and member of the Organisation of Ukrainian Producers, said.

UK film and TV union Bectu welcomed the news with the head of the union, Philippa Childs, saying, “We congratulate our SAG-AFTRA colleagues on their determination in holding out for a deal that meets their objectives. We wholeheartedly welcome this news after what has been and incredibly difficult period for our members, and the whole UK film and TV industry. I want to pay tribute to Bectu members for weathering this unprecedented time and showing solidarity to their fellow trade unionists in the US. It cannot be understated how much UK film and TV workers have suffered at the hands of the AMPTP’s failure to reach an acceptable agreement with SAG-AFTRA. This news will come as a huge relief and provide some hope after months and months of instability. Our members are highly skilled, talented professionals and the backbone of our film and TV sector, and we look forward to them getting back to work as soon as possible.”