Hollywood actors announce strike, joining writers on picket line

It is the first time the two unions have been on strike simultaneously since 1960 

By Priyanca Rajput 14 Jul 2023

Hollywood actors announce strike, joining writers on picket line
Cast of Oppenheimer; Cr Neil P. Mockford/Getty Images for Universal Pictures

Hollywood actors have joined screenwriters on the picket line after failed negotiations for better terms with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

Hollywood actors went on strike at midnight on Thursday after talks with studios failed, joining film and TV writers who have been on picket lines since May.

The move marks the first time the two unions have been on strike simultaneously since 1960, forcing them to halt many productions across the US and abroad.

The dual work stoppage will exacerbate the ongoing economic damage from the writers walkout, deepening the industry fallout.

Both SAG-AFTRA - Hollywood's largest union, representing 160,000 film and television actors - and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) are demanding increases in base pay and residuals in the streaming TV era, plus assurances that their work will not be replaced by artificial intelligence (AI).

SAG-AFTRA president and The Nanny star Fran Drescher, said actors were being “marginalised, disrespected and dishonoured” by a business model that has been drastically changed by streaming and artificial intelligence.

“What happens here is important because what’s happening to us is happening across all fields of labor, when employers make Wall Street and greed their priority and they forget about the essential contributors that make the machine run,” she said.

“We are the victims here. We are being victimised by a very greedy entity. I am shocked by the way the people that we have been in business with are treating us.

“I cannot believe it, quite frankly, how far apart we are on so many things. How they plead poverty, that they’re losing money left and right when giving hundreds of millions of dollars to their CEOs. It is disgusting. Shame on them. They stand on the wrong side of history.”

AMPTP, the trade association that negotiates on behalf of Netflix Inc, Walt Disney Co, and other studios, said it was "deeply disappointed that SAG-AFTRA has decided to walk away from negotiations."

The group said it had offered the highest percentage increases in minimum pay levels in 35 years, "substantial increases" in pension and healthcare contribution caps, and a 76% increase in foreign residuals paid from big-budget streaming shows, among other benefits.

The studios also put forward "a groundbreaking AI proposal that protects actors' digital likenesses," the AMPTP said. Actors are worried that their digital images will be used without their permission or proper compensation.

"Rather than continuing to negotiate, SAG-AFTRA has put us on a course that will deepen the financial hardship for thousands who depend on the industry for their livelihoods," the AMPTP said.

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