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SAG-AFTRA strike negotiations suspended as studios ‘offer less than before strike began’

Strike talks have broken off between Hollywood actors and studios

Andrew Dalton
Thursday 12 October 2023 14:19 BST
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Talks have broken off between Hollywood actors and studios, killing any hopes that the strike by performers was coming to an end after nearly three months, as the writers strike recently did.

The studios announced that they had suspended contract negotiations late Wednesday night (11 October), saying the gap between the two sides was too great to make continuing worth it.

On 2 October, for the first time since the strike began on 14 July, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) had resumed negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents studios, streaming services and production companies in strike talks.

When negotiations resumed with writers last month, their strike ended five days later, but similar progress was not made with the actors union.

The studios walked away from talks after seeing the actors' most recent proposal on Wednesday.

“It is clear that the gap between the AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA is too great, and conversations are no longer moving us in a productive direction,” the AMPTP said in a statement.

The SAG-AFTRA proposal would cost companies an additional $800m a year and create “an untenable economic burden,” the statement claimed.

Representatives from the actors union did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Early on Thursday (12 October), however, SAG-AFTRA issued a letter to members.

“It is with profound disappointment that we report the industry CEOs have walked away from the bargaining table after refusing to counter our latest offer,” the statement began. “We have negotiated with them in good faith, despite the fact that last week they presented an offer that was, shockingly, worth less than they proposed before the strike began.

“These companies refuse to protect performers from being replaced by AI, they refuse to increase your wages to keep up with inflation, and they refuse to share a tiny portion of the immense revenue YOUR work generates for them. We have made big, meaningful counters on our end, including completely transforming our revenue share proposal, which would cost the companies less than 57¢ per subscriber each year. They have rejected our proposals and refused to counter.”

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The letter went on to accuse the studios of employing “bully tactics”, saying that members of the union would “not be fooled”.

Actors have been on strike over issues including increases in pay for streaming programming and control of the use of their images generated by artificial intelligence.

From the start, the actors talks had nothing like the momentum that spurred marathon night-and-weekend sessions in the writers strike and brought that work stoppage to an end. Actors and studios had taken several days off after resuming, and there were no reports of meaningful progress despite direct involvement from the heads of studios including Disney and Netflix as there had been in the writers strike.

Members of the Writers Guild of America voted almost unanimously to ratify their new contract on Monday.

Their leaders touted their deal as achieving most of what they had sought when they went on strike nearly five months earlier.

They declared their strike over, and sent writers back to work, on 26 September.

Late night talk shows returned to the air within a week, and other shows including Saturday Night Live will soon follow.

But with no actors, production on scripted shows and movies will stay on pause indefinitely.

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