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Jul 13, 2023

SAG-AFTRA Declare Strike, Joining WGA Members on Picket Lines

With SAG-AFTRA officially declaring a strike, this marks the first time since 1960 that both the Writers Guild and SAG-AFTRA have been on strike at the same time. We’re in for a long summer of a double strike by two of the most powerful unions in the country against the AMPTP.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JULY 13: (Center L-R) Frances Fisher, Ben Whitehair, Joely Fisher, SAG President Fran Drescher, National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator of SAG-AFTRA Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, and SAG-AFTRA members are seen as SAG-AFTRA National Board holds a press conference for vote on recommendation to call a strike regarding the TV/Theatrical contract at SAG-AFTRA on July 13, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Despite the AMPTP calling the demands of SAG-AFTRA a need for the “militant minority” overall, actors deserve fair wages and protections against AI as the contracts that existed in 1960, or even 1986, no longer apply to the current entertainment platform. This latest development will bring all remaining U.S. union physical productions to a halt as Hollywood’s writers also continue their work stoppage.

SAG-AFTRA’s National Board officially called a strike Thursday against major film and television companies as contract talks with studios and streamers broke down without a deal on July 12. The work stoppage will impact 160,000 union members and begin at midnight tonight.

The union’s national executive director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said that the talks left the union “with no choice” but to call a strike, while union president Fran Drescher said that the studios “plead poverty” and said that the producers “stand on the wrong side of history.”

Fran Drescher added of the studios offer, “there was nothing there, it was insulting,” and said the union would be rejecting “incremental changes” on its contract with film and TV producers. “It came with great sadness that we came to this crossroads. We had no choice,” the SAG-AFTRA president said in a passionate speech to members and press. “We are the victims here. We are being victimized by a very greedy entity. I am shocked by the way the people we have been in business with are treating us. I cannot believe it, quite frankly, how far apart we are on so many things. How they plead poverty that losing money left and right while giving millions to CEOs. It’s disgusting, shame on them.”

Fran Drescher also spoke about the impasse surrounding the use of artificial intelligence and portrayed the union as taking a stand for all of labor against big corporations. “The entire business model has been changed by streaming, digital, AI. This is a moment of history that is a moment of truth. If we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be in trouble, we are all going to be in jeopardy of being replaced by machines,” the union president said.