SAG-AFTRA Negotiating Committee Votes to Strike As Midnight Bell Tolls

“The contract has expired.”

So declared SAG-AFTRA Negotiating Committee Member – and Emmy-nominated actor of hit series Abbott Elementary – Sheryl Lee Ralph on her Twitter at 12:01 a.m. late Wednesday night.

And so, SAG-AFTRA’s negotiating committee has voted unanimously to recommend to the National Board a strike of the Producers-SAG-AFTRA TV/Theatrical/Streaming Contracts following their expiration Wednesday night, July 12th, at 11:59 p.m. PT.

There is one final step before the picketing begins: SAG-AFTRA’s National Board will vote Thursday morning on whether to strike. It goes without saying they are expected to vote unanimously in favor of a strike.

Update: SAG-AFTRA’s National Board convened Thursday morning and voted to issue a strike. Picketing will begin at 9 a.m. PT/12 p.m. ET Friday.

The following statement was posted to the SAG-AFTRA website…

After more than four weeks of bargaining, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) — the entity that represents major studios and streamers, including Amazon, Apple, Disney, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros. Discovery — remains unwilling to offer a fair deal on the key issues that are essential to SAG-AFTRA members. 

In the face of the AMPTP’s intransigence and delay tactics, SAG-AFTRA’s negotiating committee voted unanimously to recommend to the National Board a strike of the Producers-SAG-AFTRA TV/Theatrical/Streaming Contracts which expired July 12, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. PT. 

SAG-AFTRA’s National Board will vote Thursday morning on whether to strike.

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said, “SAG-AFTRA negotiated in good faith and was eager to reach a deal that sufficiently addressed performer needs, but the AMPTP’s responses to the union’s most important proposals have been 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. Until they do negotiate in good faith, we cannot begin to reach a deal. We have no choice but to move forward in unity, and on behalf of our membership, with a strike recommendation to our National Board. The board will discuss the issue this morning and will make its decision.”

The SAG-AFTRA National Board will meet on July 13, 2023 to assess whether a satisfactory deal has been reached. Based on that assessment, the National Board will determine whether to declare a strike. Membership will be advised immediately of the Board’s decision by email, on the union website, and through all union communications channels. Members should be prepared for the very real possibility that the National Board will declare a strike of the Codified Basic Agreement and Television Agreement effective as early as July 13, 2023.

What Are SAG-AFTRA Members Fighting For Here?

Simply put, SAG-AFTRA members are demanding better pay and increased safeguarding around AI rights, leaving Hollywood facing a second industry walkout amid the ongoing writers’ strikes.

Support from A-listers throughout Hollywood has been peppering the headlines. Rolling Stone reported that big screen superstars such as Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence and Ben Stiller were among 300 members that urged the union to stand strong to ensure better compensation and addressed concerns about artificial intelligence in a letter.

“We want you to know that we would rather go on strike than compromise on these fundamental points, and we believe that, if we settle for a less than transformative deal, the future of our union and our craft will be undermined, and SAG-AFTRA will enter the next negotiation with drastically reduced leverage,” the letter states.

Click here for more details of this letter from Rolling Stone.

And here is a clip from CNBC providing additional insight to the issues at hand…

Bottom line: The contract has expired and a SAG-AFTRA strike will likely begin today, Thursday, July 13th, joining the Writers Guild of America (WGA) in the first “double strike” in over 60 years. For the record, that only other double strike took place in 1960, when the Screen Actors Guild, led by Ronald Reagan, went on a strike that lasted six weeks.

Check back here at SCREEN for the latest news as SAG-AFTRA and WGA forge ahead. You can also click right here to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter.

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