Actors 'Lock Elbows' in Big Move Against Studios

SAG-AFTRA union members overwhelmingly vote for strike if deal isn't reached by June 30
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 6, 2023 7:50 AM CDT
Now Actors May Go On Strike, Too
Actor and SAG-AFTRA member Jeffrey Reeves takes part in a Writers Guild of America rally outside the Paramount Pictures studio lot on May 8 in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

As writers in Hollywood remain on strike, it now looks like another group may soon join them. Members of the SAG-AFTRA union, which represents 160,000-plus movie and TV actors and other performers, voted Monday evening to authorize a strike if an acceptable new contract isn't reached with studios before the old one with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers expires on June 30. The union said the strike authorization, which comes two days before it begins negotiations with the studios, was approved by 98% of the 65,000 or so members who voted, per the AP.

"Together we lock elbows, and in unity we build a new contract that honors our contributions in this remarkable industry," SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher, known best for her role in The Nanny, said in a statement. The New York Times notes that the issues to be broached in a potential actors strike would mirror many of the issues that Hollywood writers are wrangling with, including demands for higher pay and more of a share for residuals from services such as streaming. Safeguarding against actors' likenesses being used without consent in artificial intelligence endeavors is also a key sticking point.

The news comes after the Directors Guild of America announced over the weekend it had reached its own deal with the studios. Actors in the industry haven't been on strike since 2000; that one lasted for six months. "An actors strike that lingers through summer will likely have more of an effect on content production than a writers strike, as much of the writing for slated content has been completed," Jacquie Corbelli, CEO of TV ad tech firm BrightLine, tells the Wall Street Journal.

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Although a strike isn't definitely going to happen, the Los Angeles Times reports that SAG-AFTRA getting the strike OK before negotiations even started shows how committed the union is to standing firm in its demands. The AP reports that if actors do end up striking, only film and TV productions would be affected. News and broadcast work would continue as usual. (More actors stories.)

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