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Actors to strike after contract negotiations with studios break down

The union, SAG-AFTRA, represents about 160,000 Hollywood actors.
Actors to strike after contract negations with studios break down
Posted at 7:17 AM, Jul 13, 2023

Thousands of Hollywood actors are going on strike at midnight. 

The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists union voted unanimously Thursday to strike after contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers broke down.

"Union members should withhold their labor until a fair contract can be reached," said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, National Executive Director of SAG-AFTRA. 

The AMPTP represents major studios and streamers, including Amazon, Apple, Disney, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros. Discovery.

Sticking points in the negotiations had to do with a proposed increase in minimum pay, more residuals for streaming and the use of artificial intelligence — essentially the same issues that triggered the Writers Guild of America to go on strike nearly three months ago.

“If we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be in trouble," said Fran Drescher, president of SAG-AFTRA "We are all going to be in jeopardy of being replaced by machines.”

Prior to the vote to strike, AMPTP issued a statement that said it was "disappointed" that the actors union decided to walk away from the negotiating table. 

"This is the Union’s choice, not ours," AMPTP said. "In doing so, it has dismissed our offer of historic pay and residual increases, substantially higher caps on pension and health contributions, audition protections, shortened series option periods, a groundbreaking AI proposal that protects actors’ digital likenesses, and more."


SEE MORE: Hollywood writers strike ripples to thousands of out-of-work crews

The U.S. Department of Labor reported that 54,000 actors made a mean pay of about $36 an hour last year. ZipRecruiter estimates the average actor makes anywhere from $45,000 to $84,000 per year, while big studios and executives rake in millions per picture. 

The last time both actors and writers unions went on strike at the same time was 1960. 

Currently, Hollywood is experiencing an 80% shutdown due to the writers’ strike, which has caused significant delays in the production of several shows, including popular series like "The White Lotus," "Emily in Paris," "American Dad," "Euphoria," "Family Guy," the highly anticipated final season of "Stranger Things" and "The Handmaid's Tale," plus late-night talk shows and many more.  

On Thursday, the cast of "Oppenheimer" left the U.K. premiere to join the writers on the picket lines. 

Actor Matt Damon was at the premiere and said he backed the union leaders despite owning a production company.

"It's the difference between having health care and not for a lot actors and we've got to do what's right by them," he said. 

Other actors, including Jamie Lee Curtis and Jeremy Renner have expressed support for the strike. 

During the last writers strike 15 years ago, the Los Angeles economy suffered a significant loss, estimated at $2.1 billion. The Los Angeles Times predicts the writers’ strike now could cost the local economy over $3 billion if it continues for a third month.  

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