SAG-AFTRA Is Going on Strike



The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has officially voted to go on strike, having not reached a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) to ratify a new contract.

The SAG-AFTRA board voted unanimously for the strike. It will officially begin tonight at midnight, and actors will hit the picket lines as early as Friday morning.

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher and National Executive Director & Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland announced the strike at a press conference today after previously extending its contract deadline from June 30. The new deadline was at midnight Pacific last night, and it passed without a deal.

Meetings to vote on a strike order were called as the major studios and streaming companies were “unwilling to offer a fair deal on the key issues that you told us are important to you,” Drescher and Crabtree-Ireland said in a joint statement to members at the time.

Drescher doubled down on that during an impassioned speech in the press conference, one where she called out the studios for their unwillingness to budge on their asks.

“We are being victimized by a very greedy enterprise,” she said. “At some point you have to say ‘no, we’re not going to take this anymore. You people are crazy. What are you doing? Why are you doing this?’ ”

“At some point you have to say ‘no, we’re not going to take this anymore.

“The entire business model has been changed by streaming and A.I.,” she continued, highlighting some of the major points of contention in negotiations. “If we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be in jeopardy. You cannot change the business model as much as it has been changed and not expect the contract to change too.”

After the news of the strike was called, the AMPTP issued a statement saying, “A strike is certainly not the outcome we hoped for as studios cannot operate without the performers that bring our TV shows and films to life. The Union has regrettably chosen a path that will lead to financial hardship for countless thousands of people who depend on the industry.”

The strike, depending on how long it lasts, will have massive implications on Hollywood, especially since they join the Writers Guild of America (WGA) in the work stoppage. While some productions were impacted immediately when the WGA went on strike, others could still continue with filming if their scripts were already complete. But actors not heading to sets will pretty much grind all U.S. film and TV production to a halt.

In the short term, this will also heavily impact San Diego Comic-Con, an event that usually has actors speaking with fans and press about their upcoming projects. That convention is taking place July 20-July 23 and, if the strike is not resolved by then, actors will not be able to appear to promote their movies and TV shows.

Aside from Comic-Con, it brings all promotional actor work to a pause, including Emmy campaigning – something that was set to ramp up after nominations were announced yesterday. And just before the strike was announced, the cast of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer left its U.K. premiere in solidarity, according to Variety.

With both guilds in a united front, they now hold significantly more leverage – even as Hollywood studios have reportedly planned to wait out the strike until at least October. But the last time Hollywood’s actors and writers went on strike at the same time – all the way back in 1960 – they were able to push for a much stronger residual system.

“Our hearts bleed to make this decision,” Drescher said later in the press conference. “But we can’t not get what these members deserve because it’s only going to get worse. This is where we drew the line in the sand, and it’s a terrible thing to have to do. But we were forced into it.”

Thumbnail credit: VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

Alex Stedman is a Senior News Editor with IGN, overseeing entertainment reporting. When she’s not writing or editing, you can find her reading fantasy novels or playing Dungeons & Dragons.



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