The decade's most triggering comedy
Major Hollywood film and television studios accused union actors striking against the industry of continuing to “mischaracterize the negotiations” while claiming more than $1 billion in higher compensation and enhanced benefits were offered to the performers.
SAG-AFTRA voted to join an ongoing Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike after union negotiators failed to reach an agreement on a new three-year contract last week with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).
“The deal that SAG-AFTRA walked away from on July 12 is worth more than $1 billion in wage increases, pension and health contributions and residual increases and includes first-of-their-kind protections over its three-year term, including expressly with respect to AI,” the AMPTP, which represents several studios including Netflix, Walt Disney Co., and Warner Bros Discovery, told Reuters in a statement.
“For SAG-AFTRA to assert that we have not been responsive to the needs of its membership is disingenuous at best,” the group added.
The contract reportedly aimed to negotiate higher benefits and limits on using artificial intelligence to recreate actors’ likenesses without their permission or paying them — a major point of contention for many of the 160,000 SAG-AFTRA members.
SAG-AFTRA officials proposed the members, who they say are “fighting for the survival of our profession,” receive an 11% general wage increase in the first year of the contract to make up for inflation, but were countered with a 5% offer from the union.
“We moved on some things, but from day one they wouldn’t meaningfully engage on the most critical issues,” SAG-AFTRA said.
During a press conference last week, SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher held nothing back in her response to the latest offer from the group representing the studios, calling it “egregious and disgusting.”
“A moment when streaming and AI and digital is so prevalent in the industry, it has disemboweled the industry that we once knew,” Drescher said. “When I did ‘The Nanny’ and everybody was part of the gravy train. Now it’s a walled-in vacuum. And not only is it unfair to everybody up and down the ladder, but the entity that employs us, it’s really un-American and it’s unconscionable.”
Actor George Clooney reportedly called the historic strike “an inflection point” for the Hollywood industry.
“Actors and writers in large numbers have lost their ability to make a living,” Clooney said. “For our industry to survive that has to change. For actors that journey starts now.”
Academy Award-winning actor Matt Damon also weighed in on the union strike.
“Nobody wants a work stoppage but if our leadership is saying that the deal isn’t fair then we gotta hold strong,” Damon said. “It’s the difference between having healthcare and not for a lot of actors, and we gotta do what’s right by them.”
The historic double strike marks the first time actors and writers have protested together since the 1960s.
Virginia Kruta contributed to this report.