The End Is Near? SAG-AFTRA Negotiations Continue This Week with Deal in Sight

November is here, and so is a wave of hope that the strike may be ending soon. On this 111th day of the 2023 actors strike, SAG-AFTRA and the Hollywood studios continue their latest round of negotiations, and a deal appears to be within reach.

Update: Tonight, Wednesday, November 1st, at 10:30 pm Central, the Negotiating Committee sent the following update to SAG-AFTRA members:

The Negotiating Committee met today to discuss and finalize our response to the AMPTP AI counter-proposal which we received yesterday [Tuesday]. The negotiators then met with AMPTP representatives for more than three hours this afternoon and evening to present and review our revised proposal.

The two sides had broken off Tuesday afternoon after a day that was spent dealing with AI issues and are back at the bargaining table today, according to The Hollywood Reporter. While expressing that talks are headed in the right direction, one studio-side source revealed to THR it could take a few days to work through remaining issues. Two additional studio-side sources said talks are progressing overall in a substantive way, and that a deal could be imminent. Multiple prominent actors shared with THR they have received word that a deal could be at hand soon, as well.

Bottom line: This might finally be the homestretch for a SAG-AFTRA strike that has forged on for nearly four months.

This optimism is a noted change in sentiment from earlier this week, as on Monday, the union’s negotiating committee suggested to members that a new deal — and an end to the strike — might not be immediate. “While talks over the past week have been productive, we remain far apart on key issues,” the committee wrote members. At that point, the two sides still had yet to come to a final agreement on contract language around AI and the actors’ attempt to share in a cut of streaming project revenue.

And in a video message to SAG-AFTRA members on Tuesday, union national executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland emphasized that the union needs to keep working until it is satisfied. “While I’ve said I’m cautiously optimistic, that means we’ve got to keep the pressure on,” he said. “We’ve got to keep on pushing because there are really important pieces of this agreement that are not there yet and they have to come across. AI, for example, has to be right. This deal cannot be done without a fair deal on AI.”

Here is the full message from the union brass…

Both sides are facing pressure to reach a new three-year agreement sooner than later. Studios have expressed to the union that their 2024 film slates will be in jeopardy if a deal is not reached this week. Meanwhile, a group of A-list actors met with representatives for the union and the studios earlier in October in an attempt to move talks along, according to THR and multiple sources. On October 26th, an open letter signed by thousands of SAG-AFTRA members encouraged negotiating leaders not to back down: “We have not come all this way to cave now,” the message stated.

What Are the Key Issues on the Table?

Simply put, SAG-AFTRA members are demanding better pay and increased safeguarding around AI rights.

More specifically, in the latest round of talks earlier this October, SAG-AFTRA’s proposal of revenue sharing continued to prove a tricky challenge, according to Deadline. As it has since the parties’ first set of negotiations in July, the actors guild wants the casts of successful streaming shows to receive 2% of profits. As they have since this summer and consistently since SAG-AFTRA went out on strike on July 14, the AMPTP have rejected the proposal due to differences over analytics and their take on the overall business model of streaming.

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

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