SAG-AFTRA members have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if upcoming contract talks fail to produce a satisfactory agreement by June 30. According to the union, nearly 65% of eligible members voted, and the vote was 97.91% in favor, with almost half of eligible members casting ballots. The vote comes just two days before the guild begins bargaining for a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). This vote also comes 35 days into the ongoing Writers Guild strike.
SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said, “The strike authorization votes have been tabulated, and the membership joined their elected leadership and negotiating committee in favor of strength and solidarity. I’m proud of all of you who voted as well as those who were vocally supportive, even if unable to vote. Everyone played a part in this achievement. Together we lock elbows and in unity, we build a new contract that honors our contributions in this remarkable industry, reflects the new digital and streaming business model, and brings all our concerns for protections and benefits into the now! Bravo SAG-AFTRA, we are in it to win it.”
SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland added, “This overwhelming yes vote is a clear statement that it’s time for an evolution in this contract. As we enter what may be one of the most consequential negotiations in the union’s history, inflation, dwindling residuals due to streaming, and generative AI all threaten actors’ ability to earn a livelihood if our contracts are not adapted to reflect the new realities. 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.”
In a booklet that accompanied the ballots, Drescher and Crabtree-Ireland wrote, “A strike is never a first option, but a last resort. The business model of our industry has changed significantly. We have fully entered a digital and streaming entertainment industry, and that demands a contract that is relevant to the new business model and must be contemporary to meet the financial needs of our members today.”
The union is entering into these negotiations in good faith and demanding a fair deal for our members from the AMPTP. We hope and expect they will respond in good faith. While the union’s leadership, National Board, and negotiating committee members regard a strike as a last resort, we believe we must be ready for any eventuality and have all of the leverage possible to secure the best deal.
SAG-AFTRA hasn’t struck the film and TV industry since the merger of SAG and AFTRA in 2012. Their last strike against the studios was in 1980, which established contract terms for pay-TV and videocassettes.
The guild’s negotiating committee and National Board unanimously recommended membership approval of the strike authorization. The union is looking to increase contributions to its benefit plans and protect members from erosion of income due to inflation and reduced residuals, unregulated use of generative AI, and demanding self-taped auditions.
The AMPTP responded to the strike authorization vote by saying, “We are approaching these negotiations with the goal of achieving a new agreement that is beneficial to SAG-AFTRA members and the industry overall.” The AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA will begin negotiations on May 20.
SAG-AFTRA members are willing to strike if contract talks fail to produce a satisfactory agreement by June 30. This vote comes just two days before the guild begins bargaining for a new contract with the AMPTP. The union is looking to increase contributions to its benefit plans and protect members from erosion of income due to inflation and reduced residuals, unregulated use of generative AI, and demanding self-taped auditions. The AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA will begin negotiations on May 20.