Hollywood actors are on strike following an official declaration by the national board of the SAG-AFTRA union. The union, representing approximately 160,000 actors, declared a strike at midnight PT Friday morning. Negotiators unanimously agreed upon the strike action following the failure of the association and major studios and streaming services to reach an agreement.
Like all strike actions, the major issue behind the strike concerns workers’ welfare. The SAG-AFTRA demands that studios increase pay and progress on residuals paid for when films or shows are watched or shown again, particularly on streaming services. However, the union is not alone, as they will be joining the 11,000-member Writers Guild of America, who have been on strike for two months over welfare issues.
The Writers Guild of America strike began in early May over a dispute relating to low base pay and inadequate residuals from streaming services. Both associations are also demanding assurances that studios will not use artificial intelligence (AI) to replace their jobs.
Both strikes have resulted in the closure of all movie and scripted TV productions in Hollywood. For context on the gravity of the situation. The last actor strike against television shows and film productions was in 1980. The last time Hollywood actors and writers were on strike at the same time was in 1960.
There currently is no end in sight to the conflict. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) refuses to give in to both associations’ demands. In a news conference, the President of SAG-AFTRA, Fran Drescher, said that the studios’ responses to the actors’ concerns had been “insulting and disrespectful.”
Fans can already feel the effects of the strike. Earlier today the cast of Oppenheimer left the film’s London premier in solidarity. Meanwhile, on his part, Disney CEO Bob Iger has condemned the threatened strike action as “very disruptive” at the “worst time” as well as calling the expectations of writers and actors “just not realistic.” A comment that has received significant backlash from actors, writers and the general public alike.