SAG-AFTRA Board Unanimously Decides to Put Strike Authorization Vote to Members

Like the DGA, the actors guild’s contract with Hollywood studios ends June 30

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher, right, marches with WGA West President Meredith Stiehm on the writers strike picket line at Paramount Pictures.

On Wednesday, the national board of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists voted unanimously to ask members for authorization to go on strike if the guild is unable to reach a new deal with studios.

The vote comes ahead of negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the group representing studios, which are set to begin June 7. The guild’s current contract expires on June 30.

“Earning a living as a professional performer has become increasingly difficult, with both inflation and the streaming ecosystem undercutting compensation — all the while, corporate profits and executive pay at studios continue to rise. Add to this the unregulated use of artificial intelligence and the burdens of the industrywide shift to self-tape, the outlook for working actors becomes unsustainable without transformative change,” the Board said in a statement announcing the vote.

While unanimity among SAG-AFTRA’s board is no guarantee that rank and file membership will agree to a strike, the issues listed in the guild’s statement very closely mirror those raised by the Writers Guild of America, which is in the third week of a strike that is increasingly interrupting Hollywood business.

Writers have been on strike since May 2, and in part are seeking to reverse recent trends in the industry that have come to define the streaming era — for instance, they note sky-high salaries executives earn while creatives, especially writers, are struggling to support themselves. WGA is in particular calling out industry practices that they say have turned Hollywood into a “gig economy,” such as so-called “mini rooms” where writers with a television pitch must form a writers’ room on their own dime and create an entire season’s worth of scripts before a show is even greenlit. WGA is also calling attention to the risks so-called “AI” poses to creative labor generally.

SAG-AFTRA members began showing enormous solidarity with striking writers on the second day, when SAG-AFTRA leaders and members joined hundreds of representatives from five other Hollywood unions at a massive rally in support of the WGA.

Then on May 8, SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher joined a WGA picket line in Los Angeles. “We all understand that we have entered a streaming age, and that the expiring contracts reflect a different period in entertainment history,” Drescher told TheWrap at the time. “That in and of itself dictates some imaginative change and restructuring.”

And on May 10, SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, while speaking in Denver, said plainly that actors are in the same fight as writers.

“Frankly, actors are facing the same problem. And we will have our chance to talk to the companies about that starting on June 7, and I can assure everyone that we feel just as strongly as the writers do, making sure that this industry supports the people who actually make it work, who bring the crucial element of creativity that is everything this industry is about,” he said.

AMPTP has been hit by an unusual convergence of pressure from Hollywood labor. Already dealing with the writers’ strike, it is also currently negotiating with the Directors Guild of America which, just like SAG-AFTRA, sees its current studio overall contract expire on June 30. Talks between the two groups began May 10, and DGA members have also shown up to support WGA.

Read the SAG-AFTRA board’s statement about the vote here.

Click here for all of TheWrap’s WGA Strike coverage.