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US actors’ union SAG-AFTRA calls strike authorisation vote ahead of AMPTP talks

The national board of US actors’ union SAG-AFTRA has called for a strike authorisation vote ahead of the start of negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland

If the union’s membership votes in favour of authorising a strike, it does not mean actors would definitely walk out, but it would put the guild in a position to call a strike “if deemed necessary” during the course of negotiations.

SAG-AFTRA, which represents more than 160,000 performers, added that calling a strike authorisation vote would give it “maximum bargaining leverage” as it prepares to begin talks with AMPTP on June 7. Its current contract with the AMPTP expires on June 30.

“We must get all our ducks in a row should the need present itself. The prospect of a strike is not a first option but a last resort,” said SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA’s national executive director and chief negotiator, added: “Strike authorisation sends an important message during the negotiations process. A ‘yes’ vote gives the national board the power to call a strike if the AMPTP does not negotiate fairly in our upcoming bargaining. This will be a seminal negotiation that will determine the future of what it means to be a working performer. We must be ready to fight to secure a meaningful deal for our members.”

SAG-AFTRA’s decision to call a strike vote comes as the Writers Guild of America (WGA) is already in its third week of striking against the AMPTP, which represents the studios in labour matters. The Directors Guild of America has already started negotiating with the AMPTP over its own contract, which also expires on June 30.

The WGA and SAG-AFTRA are aligned on several key issues, including the use of artificial intelligence and the reduction of compensation in the streaming era.

“Earning a living as a professional performer has become increasingly difficult, with both inflation and the streaming ecosystem undercutting compensation – all the while, corporate profits and executive pay at studios continue to rise,” said SAG-AFTRA in statement announcing the strike authorisation.

“Add to this the unregulated use of artificial intelligence and the burdens of the industrywide shift to self-tape, the outlook for working actors becomes unsustainable without transformative change.

Earlier this month, Crabtree-Ireland blasted executive pay at US streamers and studios, saying it was a “vast drain on resources” and should not be overlooked in the context of the financial headwinds facing the industry today.


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