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Actors strike officially begins, leading to dual worker stoppage

Jul 14, 2023


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Tens of thousands of actors officially went on strike after a work stoppage was unanimously approved by Hollywood’s largest union. While the strike officially began at midnight Friday, signs could already be seen Thursday, with the cast of the upcoming film “Oppenheimer” walking out of the movie’s London premiere.

The actors, represented by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), join the Writers Guild of America in a strike that is now over 200,000 people strong.

The double-barreled strike, the first one since 1960, is expected to shut down the small number of productions that continued shooting during the writers strike which began in May.

“We really didn’t want to strike,” SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said. “We extended an unprecedented amount of time to avert a strike because it’s not lost on us how this will impact not only our members, but people who service our industry, people who are in other unions that are will be affected by this.”

“We really didn’t want to strike.”

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher

Both guilds are raising issues with residual payments during the streaming boom and the rise of artificial intelligence.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the national executive director of the union and its chief negotiator, said the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the studios, “remains unwilling to offer a fair deal” after weeks of negotiations.

“Despite our team’s efforts, the AMPTP has remained steadfast in its commitment to devaluing the work of our members,” Crabtree-Ireland said.

The AMPTP, however, said SAG-AFTRA walked away from the negotiations. In a statement, the group said it presented a deal to the actors guild that included “historic pay and residual increases” as well as “a groundbreaking AI proposal that protects actors’ digital likenesses for SAG-AFTRA members.”

“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 AMPTP said. “The Union has regrettably chosen a path that will lead to financial hardship for countless thousands of people who depend on the industry.”

Speaking on CNBC Thursday, The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger said the expectations of the writers and actors’ unions “are just not realistic.”

“It’s very disturbing to me. We’ve talked about disruptive forces on this business and all the challenges we’re facing, the recovery from COVID which is ongoing, it’s not completely back. This is the worst time in the world to add to that disruption,” Iger said.

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