Are Hollywood actors going on strike? This is what we know as SAG-AFTRA members vote for action
Performers represented by SAG-AFTRA have voted to go on strike if the union cannot agree a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
Members of the Hollywood union SAG-AFTRA, which represents 160,000 performers including film and TV actors, have voted overwhelmingly to go on strike - if the guild cannot agree a new contract with major studios.
Just under 50% of SAG-AFTRA’s members took part in the ballot, which closed at 8pm ET on Monday, with nearly 98% voting in favour of potential strike action.
When could Hollywood actors go on strike?
On 7 June, the union is due to begin negotiations over a new deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents studios including Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios and Warner Bros. “The affirmative vote on the authorization empowers the union’s National Board to initiate a strike if the AMPTP won’t reach a fair deal with the union,” SAG-AFTRA said in a statement on Monday.
With the current contract due to expire on 30 June, the strike will go ahead if SAG-AFTRA cannot agree new terms with the AMPTP by then.
Why are SAG-AFTRA’s members threatening to strike?
The agreement by SAG-AFTRA members to threaten strike action comes just over a month after Hollywood screenwriters represented by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) began their first work stoppage since 2007.
The reasons for the WGA strike overlap with SAG-AFTRA’s motives for a potential walkout. Both are demanding higher royalty payments - known as residuals - from content shown on streaming platforms. The two bodies are additionally seeking limits on the use of artificial-intelligence (AI) in content creation.
SAG-AFTRA is also eager to curb the industry’s increasing reliance on performers submitting self-taped auditions.
“Compensation has been undercut by inflation and by a streaming ecosystem through which producers pay less residual income than traditional exhibition models,” SAG-AFTRA says on its website. “Unregulated use of artificial intelligence threatens the very voices and likenesses that form the basis of professional acting careers.”
The guild adds: “The shift to burdensome and unreasonably demanding self-taped auditions means that our members are working harder than ever, forced to take on audition costs that have always been the responsibility of casting and production. Without transformative change in the TV/Theatrical contracts, it will soon be unsustainable to pursue a career working under these conditions.”
Strike threat puts SAG-AFTRA in “position of strength”
“I could not be more pleased with this response from the membership,” Duncan Crabtree Ireland, SAG-AFTRA’s national executive director and chief negotiator, said on Monday. “This overwhelming yes vote is a clear statement that it’s time for an evolution in this contract […].
“This strike authorization means we enter our negotiations from a position of strength, so that we can deliver the deal our members want and deserve.”
SAG-AFTRA combines the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which merged in 2012.