Bob Iger Says SAG-AFTRA, WGA Expectations ‘Just Not Realistic’

The Disney CEO warned a double strike would be “very disruptive” to the company’s business and the economy

Bob Iger in front of a Disney+ logo
Bob Iger (Getty Images)

Disney CEO Bob Iger called the prospect of both a writers strike and actors strike “very disturbing” during an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box on Thursday.

“We’ve talked about disruptive forces on this business and all the challenges we’re facing in 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,” he explained. “I understand any labor organization’s desire to work on the behalf of its members to get the most compensation to be compensated fairly based on the value that they deliver. We managed as an industry to negotiate a very good deal with the director’s guild that reflects the value that the directors contribute to this great business. We wanted to do the same thing with the writers and we’d like to do the same thing with the actors. There’s a level of expectation that they have that is just not realistic and they are adding to a set of challenges that this business is already facing that is quite frankly, very disruptive.”

While Iger respects the guilds’ “right and their desire to get as much as they possibly can in compensation for their people,” he argued that you “have to be realistic about the business environment and what this business can deliver.”

“It has been a great business for all of these people and it will continue to be even through disruptive times. But being realistic is imperative,” he said. “It will have a very, very damaging effect on the whole business. And unfortunately, there’s huge collateral damage in the industry to people who are support services. I could go on and on. It will affect the economy, different regions even because of the sheer size of the business. It’s a shame. It is really a shame.”

Iger’s remarks come after the Wednesday evening deadline for contract negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers expired with no deal announced. A formal strike vote will be put to SAG-AFTRA’s national board Thursday morning.

If the vote passes, as it is expected to unanimously, SAG-AFTRA will order its 160,000 members to go on strike from all television and film productions, joining members of the Writers Guild of America who have been on strike since May 2. It would mark the first double strike in more than 60 years.

On Wednesday, Disney announced that they would extend Iger’s contract as CEO through 2026. Iger told CNBC he decided to stay on for longer than anticipated because some of the company’s challenges were “greater than I had anticipated.”

“While a lot of work has been accomplished in the seven or so months that I’ve been back, the board believed and I agreed with them that there was a lot more work to do, and the timetable that we had initially established — which was two years — seemed like it was putting an undue pressure on us, even though we’re getting at the work really quickly, but to accomplish everything we want to accomplish,” he added.