The SAG Strike: Actors’ Union Accepts Deal

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After 118 days, an estimated financial hit of over $6 billion for Southern California and an unprecedented drought in celebrity presence, the SAG-AFTRA strike of 2023 was called to a close last Thursday, November 9th. Main negotiation points included the distribution of residuals in the streaming era, pay-rates for low income performers and, most divisively, the use of AI in harnessing actors’ likeness for the creation of content.  

The strike between the Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) was the first time that actors and television performers had initiated a strike since the 1980s and formed partially in solidarity with the Writers’ Strike that occurred between May and September of this year. SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher, best known for her titular role in hit sitcom The Nanny (1993-1999) thanked union members for “holding out for this historic deal!” on her instagram last week. 

The ‘tentative deal’ was announced officially via the SAG-AFTRA website on November 08th, stating:

“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 12:01am on November 9, our strike is officially suspended and all picket locations are closed.”

The national board approved the new contract with an 86% majority vote. The contract itself, whilst still being ratified as of November 16th, has been confirmed to include many of the stipulations the union requested including higher wages, a bonus and residual scheme for performers participation in streaming projects as well as regulations on the use of A.I. In terms of artificial intelligence, the contract directly requires actors’ consent before studios can use their likeness and must also explicitly disclose what any artificially formed imagery will be used for. 

Public response has been largely positive, despite a handful of concerns from industry professionals and fellow actors. Two of the most notable, yet differing, responses came from actor Timothée Chalamet and filmmaker Tyler Perry. Chalamet celebrated the news by appearing on SNL, even going as far as to interrupt fellow guests in the episodes trailer with proclamations surrounding his upcoming film Wonka, which he has been unable to previously promote. Peele however expressed concern surrounding the temporary nature of the contract, claiming to CBS Morning News that “This is only a three-year deal. In two years, two-and-a-half years, we’ll be renegotiating again.”

As the entertainment industry continues to adjust to the new deal, production can finally restart on the numerous projects halted by the strike. Further, audiences can expect a notable return of marketing and press, with actors’ now officially allowed to promote their upcoming releases across all media. 

For more up to date information surrounding SAG-AFTRA and their deal please visit https://www.sagaftra.org/.

Words by Ben Carpenter


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