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SAG-AFTRA’s Negotiating Committee Unanimously Recommends Strike as Contract Deadline Passes Without a Deal

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SAG-AFTRA's Negotiating Committee Unanimously Recommends Strike as Contract Deadline Passes Without a Deal.

SAG-AFTRA, the Screen Guild, and the American Federation of and Artists are on the verge of a strike as its negotiating committee unanimously voted to recommend a work stoppage. The decision came after the expiration of SAG-AFTRA's and television contracts package, with no agreement reached with studios and streamers before the Wednesday midnight deadline. The National Board will make the final call to strike during their Thursday meeting at 9 a.m.

After more than four weeks of negotiations, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), representing significant studios and streamers such as , Apple, Disney, NBCUniversal, Netflix, , Sony, and Discovery, has failed to offer a fair deal on crucial issues important to SAG-AFTRA members. Consequently, the negotiating committee voted unanimously to recommend a strike of the Producers-SAG-AFTRA TV/Theatrical/Streaming Contracts, which expired on July 12, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. PT.

In response, the AMPTP expressed deep disappointment that SAG-AFTRA chose not to extend negotiations. The AMPTP claims they offered historic pay and residual increases, higher pension and health contribution caps, audition protections, shortened series option periods, and a groundbreaking AI proposal to protect actors' digital likenesses. The AMPTP believes that SAG-AFTRA's decision will worsen the financial hardships those who rely on the industry for their livelihoods face.

This development follows a five-week-long negotiation with the AMPTP. Despite the involvement of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, no compromise was reached. SAG-AFTRA's union president, Fran Drescher, criticized the AMPTP's responses, describing them as insulting and disrespectful. Drescher emphasized the need for companies to negotiate in good faith before reaching a deal.

If the strike proceeds, it will be SAG-AFTRA's first against film and television companies in forty years, further impacting an already affected industry amidst a writers' strike. The ongoing Writers Guild of America strike has already caused disruptions, and a SAG-AFTRA strike would jeopardize all U.S. physical involving union performers. Also, delayed displays may face further setbacks, as the AMPTP would need to negotiate with the writers and actors on the picket lines.

A dual strike involving writers and actors would be since 1960 when President Ronald Reagan led SAG-AFTRA.

The negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP began on June 7, and the initial expiration date of June 30 was extended until July 12. In a letter to its members, the union's TV/theatrical negotiating committee stated that the extension aimed to exhaust all possibilities of achieving a fair contract. Despite an initially positive tone, recent days have seen a shift in the negotiations. SAG-AFTRA began preparing PR firms and agents for a potential strike. At the same time, top executives, including David Zaslav from Warner Bros.-Discovery and Dana Walden and Alan Bergman from Disney, discussed the involvement of a federal mediator.

The industry now awaits the official decision from the SAG-AFTRA National Board to call for a work stoppage. This decision will mark a historic moment in the labor history of the and raise the stakes for this summer's negotiations.

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