A possible Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strike was temporarily avoided during the weekend, with their current contract, and negotiations, being extended to July 12th.
According to SAG-AFTRA, the actors union wants better income, as overall incomes have gone down in recent years with inflation, and more and more productions are being shot for streaming services resulting in overall less and more spread out work. SAG-AFTRA also wants limitations and regulations on artificial intelligence in productions, as it would take away jobs and result in lowered quality.
However, with negotiations hitting a rough patch last month, as well as many members being sympathetic to the current WGA strike, SAG-AFTRA voted on June 7th to give the union to authorize a strike if needed. Both SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) then quickly came to negotiations. With a strike on the line, SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP began to zero in on a deal, but time was soon coming up, with the contract ending on June 30th.
Needing more time, and wanting to avoid yet another strike for the already hurting film and TV industry, SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP agreed to a two-week contract extension. Both sides hope that the extra two weeks allows them to reach a deal and avoid an actors strike, something that hasn’t happened since 2000, with a major strike not occurring since 1980, when revenue from home videos became a major issue.
“In order to exhaust every opportunity to achieve the righteous contract we all demand and deserve, after thorough deliberation it was unanimously decided to allow additional time to negotiate,” explained SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher and National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland in a message to members during the weekend. “No one should mistake this extension for weakness.”
A temporary extended contract
A separate press release by SAG-AFTRA confirmed that “The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) have agreed to an extension of the 2020 TV/Theatrical contracts. The agreements, which were set to expire at 11:59 p.m. PT tonight, will now expire on July 12, at 11:59 pm PT. The parties will continue to negotiate under a mutually agreed upon media blackout. Neither organization will comment to the media about the negotiations during the extension.”
While both unions have agreed to stay quiet on contract negotiations, experts on organized labor said to the Globe on Monday, due to the advanced negotiations and the willingness on both sides for an extension, a new agreement was likely.
“While it seems like a lot of SAG members want to join the WGA, at the end of the day, most want to continue to work,” Theresa Stevenson, an arbitrator in Michigan who has helped settled union disputes and strikes in the past, told the Globe. “While this does affect A-list stars, it also affects so many more smaller actors and bit parts and commercial work and so many others. The majority with the SAG card simply can’t afford a strike and just want to work to live or, in some cases, have supplementary income.”
“SAG knows this, and that’s why negotiations are continuing. Most members really do just want a deal and don’t want to dig in for a strike lasting months like the WGA. They go on strike, then LA and other big acting towns are going to see a flood of new applicants going on the job market for temp or part-time work, and that means economic disruption, especially when, after the theoretical strike is over, they all pull out. We see this happen in many entertainment and non-entertainment related strikes, and LA and California really doesn’t need more economic uncertainty right now.”
“Hopefully a fair deal is reached by next week. Again, few on either side really want this, and the only actors pulling for it are ones who can afford not to work for a long time.”
The current extended SAG-AFTRA contract is due to expire on July 12th.
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