In a historic development, Hollywood encountered simultaneous strikes from the two unions representing actors and screenwriters for the first time in over sixty years. As of Nov. 9, it seems that the Screen Actors Guild–American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has finally reached an agreement with producers, while the strike by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) concluded in late September.
SAG-AFTRA is a union representing approximately 160,000 actors, broadcast journalists, announcers, hosts, stunt performers and other media professionals. Under the leadership of the union, SAG-AFTRA members benefit from protections in areas such as pay, working conditions and residuals through a collective bargaining agreement.
Following the expiration of the July 12 deadline to secure a new contract between the actors’ union SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, with no agreement reached, union leadership promptly announced plans for an imminent actors’ strike. The repercussions were immediate, with notable stars such as Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt and Florence Pugh leaving the Oppenheimer carpet premiere to prepare for the picket line.
SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher emphasized the critical nature of the situation, stating on July 13, “At some point, the jig is up. You cannot keep being dwindled and marginalized and disrespected and dishonored. The entire business model has been changed by streaming, digital and AI. This is a moment of history. If we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be in trouble.”
In conjunction with the WGA strike, which commenced on May 2, the actors’ work stoppage had a profound impact, effectively bringing television and film productions worldwide to a standstill, with significant consequences for Hollywood.
The joint picket line with SAG members joining WGA marked the first instance since 1960 that the unions representing actors and screenwriters simultaneously went on strike. In 1960, SAG, led by future U.S. President Ronald Reagan, entered a six-week strike in the midst of the WGA’s strike, which endured for nearly six months.
This year’s strike ultimately spanned 118 days, making it the lengthiest strike ever against Hollywood studios and the second-longest actors’ strike in history.
The AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA negotiated a contract that is worth one billion dollars. The contract includes protections against AI, a streaming participation bonus, increased health bonuses and multiple improvements in different categories. The contract is a huge change for Hollywood and will have effects that we will see for decades to come.