“In a perfect world, I would like someone on the other side to say, ‘We have to make this a more employee-friendly industry. It behooves us all to take that high road.’ That would be a great achievement for us. And I would like to see SAG-AFTRA repositioned at the center of the wheel upon which the entire industry leverages our artistry: a powerful union that is also a leader of labor across America.” – Fran Drescher, SAG-AFTRA President.
Unless you’ve been perfecting the art of becoming invisible, you know that the union SAG-AFTRA, which represents approximately 160,000 actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists and other media professionals, went on strike July 14, 2023. Wow, that was a mouthful!
We are NOT invisible and we will NOT keep quiet.
What Exactly is a Strike?
A strike is a collective action taken by employees or contractors who refuse to work as a way of expressing discontent with certain conditions or decisions made by their employers. Labor unions, in this case, SAG-AFTRA, often play a crucial role in organizing strikes, leveraging the participation of numerous workers and strengthening their bargaining position against the employer. The primary objective of a strike typically revolves around pressuring the employer into meeting the workers’ demands or finding resolutions for their grievances.
Why is SAG-AFTRA on a TV/Theatrical/Streaming Strike?
The strike is against Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) which is the organization that bargains for the studios, networks and streamers. AMPTP represents companies such as Amazon/MGM, Apple, Disney/ABC/Fox, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount/CBS, Sony, Warner Bros. Discovery (HBO), etc.
SAG-AFTRA members deserve just compensation that considers inflation, revenue sharing in addition to residuals, safeguards against AI technology, and revisions to our long-standing pension and health contribution limits.
To see the complete and details of what SAG-AFTRA is fighting for, CLICK HERE. The page breaks down and explains exactly what is being asked for and the response from AMPTP.
One of the items is the use of AI technology, which has been buzzing around for a while now. Technology is growing at a super fast rate. Imagine being “scanned” into the computer, being paid for just that day, but the production has the right to use your digital image for any purpose, forever, without compensation.
Why All the Fuss?
It basically boils down to corporate greed. Striking for more benefits and better working conditions is nothing new. You’ve seen picket lines over the years in the non-entertainment world. A current example are the nurses who work at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. 1700+ nurses walked off the job after contract talks stalled.
(By the way, a great film to watch about corporate greed is Wall Street, starring Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, Martin Sheen, Daryl Hannah and James Spader.)
Do you think you’re worth more than you get paid? Do you think the working conditions on set could be better, safer?
FAQS About Picketing
You are not required to picket, but if you want to stand with your fellow SAG-AFTRA members and show support, read the FAQS. You can also find where the picket lines are at the FAQS link.
SAG-AFTRA Strike Rules for Members
Variety laid out the rules in a very easy-to-understand article. No Premieres, Awards Shows, Social Media Promo, FYC Events and more. This had a huge impact on Comic-Con, usually held every July in the San Diego, CA area. One of the main attractions for fans is to meet their favorite actors. New York Comic Con is slated for October 12-15, 2023, but you can be sure that the powers that be at NYCC are scared because some big names such as Chris Evans and Ewan McGregor are scheduled to appear.
How Come Broadway Actors Are Still Working?
Stage actors are not affected by the strike because they’re represented by a different union called the Actors’ Equity Association. Many Equity members are also SAG-AFTRA members, but SAG-AFTRA is allowing dual members to continue their work in theater.
Writers Guild of America is Also On Strike
On May 2, 2023, the Writers Guild of America, which represents 11,500 screenwriters, went on strike over an ongoing labor dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. So even though, at the time, actors were still working, there was no new written content being produced. Shows and films had to change their schedules. We may be watching re-runs through the fall! This is the first time in 60 years that the WGA and SAG-AFTRA have simultaneously been on strike.
So What’s This All Mean for the Entertainment Industry?
Chaos for sure. While a strike usually helps in the negotiations for a better working life, it also prevents people from putting food on the table. Use your downtime wisely. Keep your mind and body healthy. Write a script. Use your cell phone to make video shorts. Start a blog or podcast. Anything that will keep your creative flow on the go.
Watch the Video of Day 1 on the Picket Line which includes actors Clark Gregg, Shari Belafonte and Sebastian Roché.
And by all means, stand in solidarity with your fellow SAG-AFTRA and WGA members.
Questions? Email email@example.com or call 877-8-STRIKE (877-878-7453)