After negotiations failed Wednesday night, the union voted Thursday morning to follow through on a strike that their negotiations board unanimously authorized weeks ago.
The union represents over 160,000 Hollywood actors, including A-list celebrities, who will be joining the writer’s strike in their push against major studios. It marks the first time that actors have gone on strike since 1980, and the first instance both writers and actors have been on strike together since 1960.
Fran Drescher, president of SAG-AFTRA and star of The Nanny, said in a statement that the contract offers from studios were “insulting and disrespectful.”
“The companies have refused to meaningfully engage on some topics and on others completely stonewalled us,” she said. “Until they do negotiate in good faith, we cannot begin to reach a deal.”
The 160,000 actors joined with the 11,000 writers currently on strike could halt Hollywood productions into next year. Like the writers, the actors seek contracts that accommodate their work in new age of streaming services, as well as regulations to AI usage in the industry that protect their digital likeness and intellectual property.
“As you know, over the past decade, your compensation has been severely eroded by the rise of the streaming ecosystem,” Drescher told union members in a letter ahead of the strike vote. “Furthermore, artificial intelligence poses an existential threat to creative professions, and all actors and performers deserve contract language that protects them from having their identity and talent exploited without consent and pay.”
The union also encompasses announcers, broadcaster journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, and voiceover artists. The strike will affect their work, as well as award shows, press events, and conventions, which actors and writers are expected to boycott.
While studios have resisted and even chastised efforts from the unions, members believe that their demands are more than reasonable.
“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,” Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA’s chief negotiator, told CNN. “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.”