On November 9, 2023 one of the longest labor strikes in history came to an end between SAG-AFTRA and entertainment companies nationwide.
Strikes are organized work stoppages where employees collectively refuse to work until their demands are met. They often result from disputes between employees and employers over issues such as wages, benefits, working conditions, or other contractual matters. When a strike occurs, it can have significant consequences for both the employees and the employers involved, as well as for the industry or sector affected.
SAG-AFTRA, an acronym for Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, is a renowned labor union representing over 160,000 professionals in the entertainment industry, including actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists, and other media professionals. Formed in 2012 after the merger of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), the union has a rich history of advocating for the rights and interests of its members.
With its headquarters in Los Angeles and New York City, SAG-AFTRA operates on the principles of safeguarding the rights of performers, ensuring fair compensation, and advocating for improved working conditions. The union negotiates and enforces collective bargaining agreements that establish equitable compensation, benefits, and working conditions for its members, including minimum rates of pay, residual payments, and health and pension benefits. SAG-AFTRA's extensive efforts also encompass providing valuable resources and professional development opportunities to its members. These resources include workshops, seminars, and networking events aimed at enhancing the skills and knowledge of entertainment professionals, enabling them to navigate the complexities of the industry more effectively. Additionally, the union actively engages in initiatives to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the entertainment world, striving to create a more inclusive and representative environment for all its members. In essence, SAG-AFTRA serves as a critical force in the entertainment industry, championing the rights and well-being of its diverse membership and continuously striving to elevate the standards of the profession while maintaining a vibrant and inclusive creative community.
Strikes can be complex and contentious, often involving negotiations between labor unions and management to reach a resolution that satisfies both parties. These negotiations may involve compromises on both sides and can sometimes lead to protracted discussions before a consensus is reached.
This is the case for the strike by writers and actors all across the nation demanding better pay, working environments, and benefits. Writers had been on strike since May, with actors joining on the sidelines this past July. The strike was pushed forward due to the unveiling of streaming service pay, not reaching actors paychecks, as well as the development of artificial intelligence technology.
The strike, running at 118 days, had far-reaching implications for film and television productions, as well as for the broader entertainment industry as a whole. It disrupted the
production of various films and television shows, leading to delays in release dates and financial losses for production companies and studios. This event, in turn, could have a ripple effect on related industries, such as advertising, marketing, and distribution, which rely on timely releases of new content to generate revenue and maintain audience engagement. In addition to affecting the livelihoods of actors, many of whom rely on regular work opportunities to sustain their careers and livelihoods. The strike had put more than two million people out of work for months, and it was tedious, but the industry believed they had to fight for what was right.
The Writers Guild of America reached an agreement with studios on September 24 and ended its 148- day strike on September 27. On November 9, SAG-AFTRA voted to accept their union’s deal, which includes increases in compensation for streaming shows and films, better health care funding, concessions from studios on self-taped auditions, and guarantees that studios will not use artificial intelligence to create digital replicas of their likenesses without payment or approval, etc.
The residuals and fallout from the months-long strike has been significant, costing California’s economy over $5 billion. However, with the deal finalized, Hollywood will be scrambling for the next month to get jobs and films back on track.Though many were caught in the crossfire, let’s hope for a great next year of movie releases!
Edited by: Sally (Anh) Ngo
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