Actors Guild Approves Strike Authorization With Overwhelming Vote as Writers' Strike Continues

06/05/2023 11:25 pm EDT

Last month, the SAG-AFTRA national board unanimously agreed to send an authorization vote to members with the recommendation that members vote to authorize a strike should one be necessary during the upcoming labor negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and now, the members have voted. According to SAG-AFTRA, 97.91 percent of SAG-AFTRA members voted in favor of a strike authorization ahead of negotiations of the TV/theatrical contracts with nearly 65,000 members casting ballots for a voting percentage of 47.69 percent of eligible voters. The union represents roughly 160,000 people, including film and television actors, journalists, radio personalities, recording artists, singers, voice actors, internet influencers, and other media professionals. Negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP begins on June 7th.

"The strike authorization votes have been tabulated and the membership joined their elected leadership and negotiating committee in favor of strength and solidarity. I'm proud of all of you who voted as well as those who were vocally supportive, even if unable to vote. Everyone played a part in this achievement," said SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher in a statement. "Together we lock elbows and in unity we build a new contract that honors our contributions in this remarkable industry, reflects the new digital and streaming business model and brings ALL our concerns for protections and benefits into the now! Bravo SAG-AFTRA, we are in it to win it."

"I could not be more pleased with this response from the membership. This overwhelming yes vote is a clear statement that it's time for an evolution in this contract. As we enter what may be one of the most consequential negotiations in the union's history, inflation, dwindling residuals due to streaming, and generative AI all threaten actors' ability to earn a livelihood if our contracts are not adapted to reflect the new realities. This strike authorization means we enter our negotiations from a position of strength, so that we can deliver the deal our members want and deserve," said SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland.

It's important to note that this vote does not mean that a strike will happen, just that one can happen should negotiations fail to lead to an agreement between both parties. It's been more than 20 years since the last time SAG-AFTRA went on strike, the last time being in 2000 when the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) were still two separate unions. The strike at that time lasted for six months.

SAG-AFTRA is the latest entertainment labor organization to approve a strike authorization. Earlier this year, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) followed a similar process, ultimately ordering a strike effective May 2nd after negotiations with the AMPTP ground to a halt. That strike is now entering its sixth week. The Directors Guild of America (DGA) was also in negotiations with AMPTP but reached a tentative deal on Sunday. SAG-AFTRA's current contract with AMPTP expires at midnight on June 30th.

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