The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, also known as SAG-AFTRA, has authorized a strike if it doesn’t reach an agreement on a new contract with major studios, streamers and production companies by the end of June. The Hollywood union represents more than 160,000 screen performers, stunt performers, broadcast journalists and hosts. It will commence negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on Wednesday. However, a strike would only affect television and film productions, and not news or broadcast work.
Actors are demanding increased base compensation, which they claim has been undermined by inflation and the use of streaming services. In addition, performers are concerned about unregulated use of artificial intelligence, while benefit plans and self-taped auditions are causing further anxieties. Should a strike occur, the industry – which is already suffering from the six-week long Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike – would come to a near-standstill, impacting everything from production to the promotion of finished projects.
The WGA, Directors Guild of America (DGA) and SAG-AFTRA have shown solidarity with one another since the WGA began striking on 2 May. However, that solidarity was temporarily threatened when the DGA – which oversees 19,000 film and commercial directors – announced it had reached a tentative agreement with studios. Although the terms have not been disclosed, some individual WGA members were concerned that this agreement would force them to accept the same terms as the DGA. However, the WGA maintains the companies must negotiate fairly with them for the strike to end.
Despite these threats of division, the guilds’ aims are not entirely aligned. While the DGA is focused on securing international streaming residuals and better conditions for its members, the WGA is seeking increased pay and improved residuals, while SAG-AFTRA’s focus is on the specific needs of its actors.