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US actors’ strike looms as SAG-AFTRA studios contract expires without a deal

A strike by members of US actors’ union SAG-AFTRA now seems inevitable after talks with studios broke up without a deal and the existing contract expired at midnight.

Fran Drescher

On Tuesday evening, SAG-AFTRA said it would accommodate the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP)’s “last-minute request” for mediation.

However, the union issued a statement this morning saying its television, theatrical and streaming contracts had expired without a successor agreement and it was now recommending a strike.

The union’s national board will vote later today on whether to walk out, opening up the possibility of US actors and writers being out on strike simultaneously for the first time since the 1960s.

The initial deal had been set to expire on June 30 but was extended to allow more time for negotiations. SAG-AFTRA indicated it was not open to another extension.

The statement said: “After more than four weeks of bargaining, the 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.”

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.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland

“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.”

National executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland added: “The studios and streamers have implemented massive unilateral changes in our industry’s business model, while at the same time insisting on keeping our contracts frozen in amber. That’s not how you treat a valued, respected partner and essential contributor.

“Their refusal to meaningfully engage with our key proposals and the fundamental disrespect shown to our members is what has brought us to this point. The studios and streamers have underestimated our members’ resolve, as they are about to fully discover.”

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