The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television (SAG-AFTRA) turned down the “last, best and final” offer from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) on Monday after taking the weekend to craft a response, extending the actors strike even deeper into November.
The SAG-AFTRA strike, which started on July 14th and has currently lasted 116 days, was at a standstill with the AMPTP for months and has been in negotiations with the studios since early October. Negotiations over better residual fees for streaming service programs, overall better pay, and strict regulation on the use of artificial intelligence have been slow to progress, mirroring the first several months of the largely concurrent WGA strike.
A new agreement with the Writers Guild of America (WGA) last month, which ended the 146-day long WGA strike, had brought new hope for a quick end to the actors strike, with many experts saying that it could only take a week or so to settle. Talks officially began again on October 6th. However, while things looked promising at first, talks took a turn on October 11th when the actors union presented their latest proposal. Their new proposal included huge viewership bonuses for actors that would cost studios over $800 million a year as well as a 2% streaming revenue-sharing proposal that would give those funds to SAG-AFTRA members in the production. In addition, the union wanted a $1 set fee per subscriber and larger minimum wage increases.
The studios walked away, leaving the union fuming. After numerous inter-union proposals were shot down, talks between the sides restarted last week because of pressure from actors within the union. However, studios soon made it clear that an agreement needed to be made in the next week to salvage what remained of the fall schedule and all partially completed productions. On Saturday, the AMPTP gave their “last, best, and final” offer to the actors guild and made it clear that no more concessions were to be made. SAG-AFTRA leaders went into discussions, taking the rest off the weekend off to look after their final agreement.
Meanwhile, the rest of the union continued to put pressure on the studios. This included many top actors contacting studios and picketers keeping up lines and planning to continue all week, minus the Veterans Day holiday on Friday.
“The time has come for you to put pressure on the CEOs,” said Chelsea Schwartz, a SAG-AFTRA strike captain. “Call the studio heads. Shout at them on social media. Tell them to accept our deal. You can help us end this strike and save our profession! We’re stronger together!”
SAG-AFTRA Doesn’t Agree To Latest Offer
This led to SAG-AFTRA’s Monday announcement that the new offer was not accepted. While SAG-AFTRA didn’t go into details, they did mention that one of the sticking point continues to be AI usage.
This morning our negotiators formally responded to the AMPTP’s “Last, Best & Final” offer.
Please know every member of our TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee is determined to secure the right deal and thereby bring this strike to an end responsibly. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/1PwqaoNXAJ
— SAG-AFTRA (@sagaftra) November 6, 2023
“There are several essential items on which we still do not have an agreement, including AI,” said the guild on Monday in a tweet. “We will keep you informed as events unfold.”
While both sides are expected to meet again in the coming days to hammer out the remaining points, labor experts noted on Monday that there is not likely any wiggle room left.
“SAG-AFTRA has continued to be difficult,” said Theresa Stevenson, an arbitrator in Michigan who has helped settled union disputes and strikes in the past. “The AMPTP, which is to have new negotiations with IATSE and other unions soon, wants this one out of the way ASAP. They have other unions to worry about, as well as the growing headache of lost billions between all the studios. And that’s not even getting into all the billions Los Angeles and California have lost in the local economy. The union just doesn’t care that they are destroying the livelihoods of so many people as long as they get their way.
“You know, you always see horns honking in support going by. It’s not the most scientific indicator of support, but it is the loudest. In Michigan, auto workers always had the honks, even during the strike earlier this fall. WGA had them too. SAG-AFTRA isn’t getting nearly as much.
“They didn’t forget to say that they were fighting for all members, including the ones who have to work two or three jobs. But the way they have been fighting for residuals makes them appear way out of touch, as that is just fighting for the top earners. And they are ignoring below the line workers. There was an article recently about an actor being lambasted by messages from crew members struggling. The studios are trying to get this done, so who do you think is responsible?
“This needs to get settled soon – everyone is running out of patience.”
Talks between studios and the union are expected to resume soon.
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