SAG-AFTRA STRIKE INDUSTRY
MOST OF MY MEMBERS don’t even meet the threshold for health insurance , WHICH IS $26,000 a year . IN MOST PROFESSIONS, THAT WOULD BE CONSIDERED a part-time job ”
MASS MOVEMENT Strike authorisation ballots for the SAG-AFTRA and WGA trade unions returned 97.91% and 97.85% in favour of industrial action, respectively
margins and residual payments are getting them across that threshold,” read Damon’s quote. “This isn’t an academic exercise.” When news came through that the strike was now going ahead, the Oppenheimer actors walked away from Leicester Square, with the strike forbidding them from taking part in promotional appearances, press junkets or red carpets. “You’ve seen them here earlier on the red carpet,” Nolan announced to his audience. “Unfortunately, they’re off to write their picket signs, joining one of my guilds, the Writers Guild, in the struggle for fair wages for working members.” The SAG-AFTRA strike now runs concurrently with a walkout by 11,500 screenwriters from the Writers Guild of America (WGA), who initiated industrial action on 2 May – marking the first time in 63 years that both unions have struck at the same time. When the Screen Actors Guild joined the WGA strike during the early months of 1960, SAG president Ronald Reagan led the action.
Back then, the writers’ strike concluded with improved rights and pensions for WGA members. This time, the WGA are fighting over residual payments from streaming, the growth of AI as a writing tool, shorter exclusivity deals and the ever-shrinking sizes of Hollywood writing teams. Their first two concerns mirror those of SAG-AFTRA, who say that the studios Disney, Universal, Sony and Paramount – as well as major streamers Apple, Amazon and Netflix – have refused to negotiate adequate pay rises for performers and have not made enough concessions in the sharing of streaming revenue. They too are very concerned about AI, with the digital use of actors’ likenesses potentially rendering actual performers redundant. “Most of my members don’t even meet the threshold for health insurance, which is $26,000 a year. In the majority of professions that would be considered a part-time job,” said SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher, who is best known for her role on nineties sitcom The Nanny . “All they are interested in is showing their shareholders how much money they are making,” Drescher asserted of the studios. “It’s very strange. I don’t understand why people don’t just do the right thing.” The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), meanwhile, which represents the studios and with whom the unions have locked horns, claims its offers are being misrepresented, stating: “The deal that SAG-AFTRA walked away from on 12 July is worth more than $1 billion in wage increases, pension and health contributions and residual increases, and includes first-of-their- kind protections in its three-year term, including expressly with respect to AI.”
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