Hollywood Actors' Union SAG-AFTRA to Strike at Midnight, 'We Are the Victims Here'

Leaders of the Hollywood union SAG-AFTRA, representing 160000 television and movie actors, voted to strike on Thursday.

via: Los Angeles Times

The vote came after negotiations between the actors’ union and the major studios failed to reach an agreement on a new film and TV contract.

Actors — similarly to screenwriters already on picket lines — have been battling studios for a pact that would deliver far better pay and residuals from streaming and address other issues, including the use of artificial intelligence, that have been roiling the entertainment landscape.

Despite the last-minute involvement of a federal mediator, the 160,000-member union was unable to secure a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios in labor dealings. The old collective bargaining agreement expired Wednesday night without a deal in place.

Union leaders announced the board’s vote at a noon news conference in Los Angeles.

“We are the victims here,” SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said during a fiery speech. “We are being victimized by a very greedy entity.

“I’m shocked by the way the people we have been in business with are treating us. It is disgusting. Shame on them. They stand on the wrong side of history at this very moment.”

The studios said the union walked away from an offer that included “historic” increases in pay and residuals, as well as a “groundbreaking” proposal for AI protections. The group said its offer included a requirement for performer’s consent for the creation and use of digital replicas or for digital alterations of a performance.

“A strike is certainly not the outcome we hoped for as studios cannot operate without the performers that bring our TV shows and films to life,” the AMPTP said in a Thursday statement in response to the union’s strike declaration. “The Union has regrettably chosen a path that will lead to financial hardship for countless thousands of people who depend on the industry.”

The board’s vote clears the way for the union to begin nationwide pickets starting Friday and deepens the labor strife that has disrupted Hollywood since scribes represented by the Writers Guild of America went on strike on May 2. The actors’ strike begins at midnight.

The strike is expected to grind even more productions to a halt and make it difficult for studios to promote upcoming films and TV shows, with SAG-represented actors unable to do press interviews for their projects, attend premieres or go to film festivals.

It marks the first time in 63 years that both actors and writers have been on strike at the same time as Hollywood grapples with issues over how talent is compensated in the streaming era.

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