Hollywood Performers To Strike After Studio Negotiations Crumble

The Screen Actors Guild voted to join Writers Guild of America members who have been taking industrial action for over two months.

The Screen Actors Guild — the union representing tens of thousands of Hollywood performers — voted on Thursday to strike after negotiations with film and TV studios fell apart.

The guild, known as SAG-AFTRA, had agreed to extend talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) two weeks past their contract expiration date of June 30. But the two sides failed to reach an agreement in that time, even after federal mediators joined discussions, and the union’s negotiating committee unanimously recommended a strike to its national board early Thursday. The national board agreed hours later.

Fran Drescher, SAG-AFTRA president and iconic star of the ’90s sitcom The Nanny, called the studio’s attitudes at the bargaining table “insulting and disrespectful of our massive contributions to this industry”.

“The companies have refused to meaningfully engage on some topics and on others completely stonewalled us,” Drescher said in a statement. “Until they do negotiate in good faith, we cannot begin to reach a deal.”

The strike will effectively grind Hollywood to a halt, at least temporarily.

On Monday, SAG-AFTRA leadership assembled around 140 top publicists for a conference call to brace them for what was then seen as a likely strike, according to Variety. One person described the vibes as “panicked”. The stars of summer blockbusters like Oppenheimer, Barbie and the new Mission Impossible installation would be pulled from red carpets and press junkets, The Wrap reported.

The performers will join Writers Guild of America members, who have been on strike since early May after their negotiations with the AMPTP similarly stalled out.

Both unions have not been on strike at the same time since the 1960s.

The trade group AMPTP represents major studios, including Disney, Netflix, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros. Some 160,000 performers are part of SAG-AFTRA, including big Hollywood names, making entry into the card-holders’ club a major stepping stone for aspiring stars.

Commentary from studio executives this week appears to have only tangled the path to any agreements with the unions. One executive bluntly told Deadline that the studios’ goal was to “break the WGA” by refusing to negotiate in good faith for several months.

“The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses,” an executive told Deadline, which noted other top bosses felt the same.

Disney CEO Bob Iger also incensed union members and their allies by saying the writers and performers were not being “realistic”.

“It’s very disturbing to me,” he said during a Thursday morning appearance on CNBC’s Squawk Box.

Iger, whose salary amounts to $25 million, was appearing from Idaho’s Sun Valley Conference, an annual meeting of tech and media executives dubbed by some as a “billionaire summer camp”.

Overlapping concerns from SAG-AFTRA and the WGA include using artificial intelligence and declining residual payments that once bolstered the workers’ income.


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