SAG-AFTRA Prepares Strike Authorization Vote Ahead of Negotiations with AMPTP; Follows Steps Made by WGA

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SAG-AFTRA Prepares Strike Authorization Vote Ahead of Negotiations with AMPTP; Follows Steps Made by WGA

SAG-AFTRA to send out postcards asking union members to vote "yes" on a strike authorization vote ahead of negotiations with the AMPTP.

By Errol Lewis
SAG-AFTRA, Union for Actors, #SAGAFTRA
Courtesy of SAG-AFTRA

Just as the Writers Guild of America (WGA) did before it formally went on strike on Tuesday, May 2, the SAG-AFTRA National Board unanimously agreed on Wednesday, May 17 to recommend that its members vote to authorize a strike should the union’s forthcoming TV/Theatrical Contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) fail. Negotiations are set to begin on Wednesday, June 7. The current TV/Theatrical Agreement expires at midnight on June 30, 2023.

While cautioning that an affirmative vote does not mean a strike would necessarily happen, the union notes an overwhelming vote in favor of a strike bits members would allow the National Board to call one if deemed necessary during the negotiations process.

The action comes following a unanimous agreement by the TV/Theatrical negotiating committee that the strike authorization would give the union maximum bargaining leverage as it enters this round of negotiations with the AMPTP. SAG-AFTRA represents more than 160,000 entertainment and media professionals.

Fran Drescher
Fran Drescher
Courtesy of Tinseltown/Shutterstock

“For the first time in a very long time, our member leadership stands in solidarity at the negotiating committee and the National Board levels on moving forward with a strike authorization. We must get all our ducks in a row should the need present itself, said SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher. “The prospect of a strike is not a first option, but a last resort. As my dad always says, ‘Better to have and not need than to need and not have!’ Therefore, I implore eligible members to follow the leads of both the negotiating committee and the National Board with an unprecedented show of solidarity and make three a charm with an emphatic ‘yes’ for a strike authorization vote!”

SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland explained, “Strike authorization sends an important message during the negotiations process. A ‘yes’ vote gives the National Board the power to call a strike if the AMPTP does not negotiate fairly in our upcoming bargaining. This will be a seminal negotiation that will determine the future of what it means to be a working performer. We must be ready to fight to secure a meaningful deal for our members.”

In its reporting, SAG-AFTRA notes that earning a living as a professional performer has become increasingly difficult, with both inflation and the streaming ecosystem undercutting compensation — all the while, corporate profits and executive pay at studios continue to rise. Add to this the unregulated use of artificial intelligence and the burdens of the industrywide shift to self-tape, the outlook for working actors becomes unsustainable without transformative change.

As a reminder, a successful strike authorization vote doesn’t initiate a strike. Instead, the strike authorization permits the National Board to declare a strike if the studios and streaming companies fail to negotiate fairly with SAG-AFTRA for the benefit of its members.

Eligible members will be sent postcards starting Thursday, May 18 with instructions on how to vote, and voting will close at 5 p.m. PT on Monday, June 5.

The current SAG-AFTRA TV/Theatrical Agreement expires at midnight on June 30, 2023.

More information is available at sagaftra.org/contracts2023, including the Strike Authorization Vote FAQs.

SAG-AFTRA is the actors union representing actors appearing in TV/Theatrical productions, including “The Bold and the Beautiful,” “Days of our Lives,” “General Hospital” and “The Young and the Restless.” A strike, should one eventually be called, will force a production shutdown of all TV/Theatrical productions requiring on-camera work by union members.

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