Marisa Tomei, Bryan Cranston and Julia Louis-Dreyfus Among 3600+ Actors Urging SAG-AFTRA Not to ‘Cave’ for a ‘Bad Deal’

“As hard as this is, we would rather stay on strike than take a bad deal,” says the group calling itself Members in Solidarity in an open letter

sag-aftra wga strike
Members of WGA East and SAG-AFTRA hold picket signs in New York City (Credit: Getty Images)

Nine days after several of Hollywood’s top-earning actors unsuccessfully attempted to convince SAG-AFTRA leaders to consider a proposed compromise that didn’t address the issues behind the ongoing actors’ strike against the studios, a much larger group calling itself Members in Solidarity — whose ranks included some comparably heavy-hitting stars — urged the exact opposite.

Thursday night in an open letter — whose more than 3,600 signatories included Julia Louis-Dreyfus, John Hamm, Marisa Tomei, Sarah Paulson, Bryan Cranston and Sandra Oh — the actors said bluntly that they “would rather stay on strike than take a bad deal.” It’s a statement similar to the one released in June during the original round of negotiations preceding the strike.

The letter was made public hours after the conclusion of Thursday’s round of negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. It was the second day of talks that resumed on Tuesday, ending a two-week break that began when AMPTP abruptly walked out over disagreements about the guild’s proposed revenue sharing plan.

On Oct. 17, midway through that hiatus, George Clooney, joined by Scarlett Johannsson, Tyler Perry, Meryl Streep, Emma Stone and other A-listers, met with SAG-AFTRA leaders. Hoping to broker an end to the strike, they offered several proposals that the guild later explained didn’t actually address the underlying issues behind the strike. The proposal also didn’t sit well with some rank and file guild members, who among other things described it as “a little bit of union busting.”

While it didn’t directly name those A-listers or refer to their proposal, in referencing “a minority unwilling to make temporary sacrifices for the greater good,” the letter serves as a clear response.

“We, the majority who voted overwhelmingly to authorize this strike, are still standing in solidarity, ready to strike as long as it takes and to endure whatever we must in order to win a deal that is worthy of our collective sacrifice,” the letter said.

The letter asserted that “everything we have as a union — every minimum payment, health and pension benefit, residual, royalty and workplace protection — it has all been won with the power of our members; the power of our solidarity.” The letter added that guild leaders “have our trust, our support and our power behind” them

Following the release of the letter, Kylie Sparks, a strike captain who also helped organize the letter, told TheWrap, “As an almost 20-year member of SAG-AFTRA and as someone who has grown up in the industry, unwavering solidarity has given us historical gains in the past. As we look to the future and generations to come, standing firm now gives us the best possible chance for our next group of actors coming up in the industry to have a career.”

“This is a once-in-a-generation fight, and we want to show our strength and tell the Negotiating Committee, who has been in constant communication with our strike captains who are on the line every day, we have their back no matter how long it takes. They show up for us, so we want to show up for them,” Sparks concluded.

While talks Thursday appear to have gone well, and the two sides will meet again Friday to continue them, the open letter came at a critical time. A studio insider told TheWrap this week that studio bosses are considering another round of hardball if negotiations aren’t wrapped up quickly.

According to the insider, if a new deal hasn’t been struck by Halloween, AMPTP may quit talks for a third time — and refuse to come back to the table until January, all but guaranteeing that the 2023-24 television season is a wash and likely bringing nearly all Hollywood business to a halt again.

SAG-AFTRA’s lead negotiator, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, told TheWrap Thursday afternoon that the guild’s “laser-focus” is on the talks, and not on what he dismissed as “rumors and whisper campaigns.”

Representatives for AMPTP didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.

Read the full letter below:

To our SAG-AFTRA Negotiating Committee:

Back in June, before we went on strike, a large group of members signed an open letter telling our leaders that we would rather go on strike than take a bad deal.

Now, more than 100 days into our strike, that is still true. As hard as this is, we would rather stay on strike than take a bad deal.

We have not come all this way to cave now. We have not gone without work, without pay, and walked picket lines for months just to give up on everything we’ve been fighting for. We cannot and will not accept a contract that fails to address the vital and existential problems that we all need fixed.

In any union, there will always be a minority who are not willing to make temporary sacrifices for the greater good. But we, the majority who voted overwhelmingly to authorize this strike, are still standing in solidarity, ready to strike as long as it takes and to endure whatever we must in order to win a deal that is worthy of our collective sacrifice. We know that our union leaders are doing everything in their power to achieve that goal as they negotiate in good faith with the companies to arrive at a new contract that will protect us and our fellow performers, now and for generations to come.

Everything we have as a union – every minimum payment, health and pension benefit, residual, royalty, and workplace protection – it has all been won with the power of our members; the power of our solidarity; the power of standing together as one to demand what is right, what is fair, and what we deserve. You have our trust, our support, and our power behind you now.

One day longer. One day stronger. For as long as it takes.

For all of TheWrap’s Hollywood strike coverage, click here.

Comments

6 responses to “Marisa Tomei, Bryan Cranston and Julia Louis-Dreyfus Among 3600+ Actors Urging SAG-AFTRA Not to ‘Cave’ for a ‘Bad Deal’”

  1. FAIR deal involves compromise Avatar
    FAIR deal involves compromise

    Compromise in negotiations is not caving, compromise is expected as a fair practice in these contract talks.     
    The size of this guild can’t support itself and any new contract, no matter how generous, will change that fact.   The industry is contracting, so even fewer jobs.  If only 23% of your members is able to reach your threshold for benefits, you have a majority of members who are part-time freelancers.  
    The expectations for those members must be clarified; selling some dream that this contract will change their economics dramatically is unfair and utterly disrespectful to those who have relied on this industry as full time professionals for decades.   
    How is it that SAG/AFTRA has 160,000 members and IATSE 170,000, when on any show the ratio of IATSE far exceeds SAG/AFTRA members.   How can you justify the size of your guild and cry poverty knowing this is a part-time freelance gig profession.   
    I hope you receive your earned minimums gain, AI regulation, and success based residual payment repair, but prolonging this strike ‘as long as it takes’ is bankrupting thousands and thousands and thousands of professional lives.   Literally destroying lives.   We ALL need a fair deal as soon as possible to stem the tide of bankrupting support business and the infrastructure that makes this industry operate.   

    1. Steve Price Avatar
      Steve Price

      You make good points, but caving for a bad contract that does not address streaming residuals and AI only pushes the rank and file toward survival jobs that have nothing to do with the industry. We gave it all away with new media. We can’t make that mistake again. If people truly want to work in this industry, it means making more than that of a fast food worker (not talking about the a listers, but the 86% that make less than 25k in the industry).

      1. Fair deal Avatar
        Fair deal

        If you are talking about background, I know what union extras make per hour.    It’s the non-union people that make lower wages, and most of these people consider it a side hustle.  And please be honest, a very large percentage of them have little training.  
        For your guild members, this is about casting and the numbers of hours worked, not their hourly rate. There are more members than there are jobs, and that’s a big problem for a bloated union.  
        We can’t burn down an entire industry for non-union extras.  
        AI regulation sign off requires the training of your members.  I’m sure you will get the protections you need, but your members need to understand their rights and the guild should train them.   Just like my union trains me of my rights, and avenues to defend them. 
        You are about to get the biggest win in the history of this industry, with gains on all of your asks.   There is no bad deal anymore.   It will be a fair deal.  

  2. John Avatar
    John

    “the letter serves as a clear response to that earlier effort.”

    It actually is not.

    Don’t be a POS. Stop trying to manufacture something it is not, leech.

  3. Bill Avatar
    Bill

    Do they realize the optics of people who make multiple millions of dollars for each project they do – including Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who is worth over $250 million and never has to work, EVER – telling the rank and file making scale they should not go back to work?

  4. Samuel King Avatar
    Samuel King

    Well, this is IT, SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP are heading back to the negotiation table TONIGHT after spending the day working on a new contract to end the nearly 110 day old strike. Fingers crossed they prove Marisa Tomei, Bryan Cranston, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the other 3600 wrong when an imminent tentative agreement is reached. I have seen the dual Hollywood strike between SAG and the WGA as a punishment sent to us from God. And I believe that if I think REALLY hard about HOW MUCH I want this strike to end then God will see that we’re sorry and maybe take these things away, please PLEASE take them away!

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