Actors Celebrate Historic Victory as SAG-AFTRA Ends Strike


After 118 days of striking, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has reached a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) that will put actors back to work and secure unprecedented gains for the union.


A New Paradigm for Streaming and AI

The deal, which was unanimously approved by the union’s negotiating committee on Wednesday, will see most minimums increase by 7% – two percent above the increases received by the Writers Guild of America and the Directors Guild of America. The deal also includes a “streaming participation bonus”, according to an email sent to SAG-AFTRA members, as well as increases in pension and health contributions. The union said the contract is worth more than $1 billion in total.

One of the most significant achievements of the deal is the establishment of the first-ever protections for actors against artificial intelligence (AI). The union had demanded that actors be given the right to consent and receive compensation for the use of their voice, likeness, or performance in any AI-generated content. The AMPTP had initially resisted this demand, arguing that it would stifle innovation and limit the creative potential of AI.

However, after months of negotiations, the two sides were able to reach a compromise that will ensure actors have a say in how their work is used and reproduced by AI. The deal also sets a precedent for other unions and industries that may face similar challenges in the future.

A Historic Strike That Shook Hollywood

The strike, which began on July 14, 2023, was the longest actors strike against the film and TV studios in Hollywood history. It affected thousands of productions, from blockbuster movies to streaming shows, and caused major disruptions and losses for the industry. The strike also sparked solidarity actions from other unions, such as the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), which threatened to join the strike if the AMPTP did not meet the actors’ demands.

The strike was motivated by the union’s dissatisfaction with the previous contract, which expired on June 30, 2023. The union argued that the contract did not reflect the changing landscape of the entertainment business, especially the rise of streaming platforms and the emergence of AI technologies. The union also accused the AMPTP of engaging in unfair bargaining practices and delaying the negotiations.

The AMPTP, on the other hand, claimed that the union was making unreasonable and unrealistic demands that would harm the industry and jeopardize its recovery from the pandemic. The AMPTP also accused the union of violating federal labor law by calling a strike without exhausting all the available mediation options.

The two sides were locked in a stalemate for months, with no signs of progress or compromise. The situation became more urgent as the studios faced the risk of losing the winter season and the summer blockbusters, which would have resulted in a huge financial blow for everyone involved.

A Relief and a Celebration for the Actors

The deal, which was reached minutes before the deadline set by the AMPTP on Wednesday, was met with relief and celebration by the actors, who will finally get back to work and resume their careers. The union said it was “thrilled” with the agreement and praised the members for their courage and solidarity.

“We have arrived at a contract that will enable SAG-AFTRA members from every category to build sustainable careers,” the union said in the email. “Many thousands of performers now and into the future will benefit from this work.”

The union is expected to hold celebration gatherings around the country. Kevin E. West, a member of the committee, said there were “tears of exhilaration and joy” in the committee room after the contract was approved.

“The final vote was unanimous. That’s a difficult thing to accomplish,” West said, speaking outside union headquarters. “It’s honestly been a really long two weeks.”

He said the final deal is “not perfect – nothing is”, but that getting to this outcome was an “extraordinary” achievement.

Ben Whitehair, another member of the committee, said the deal is a “massive win” for the union.

“It’s incredibly emotional,” he said. “We’ve made history.”

He said the union gained “structural change” in compensation on streaming platforms. Though the union did not get everything it wanted, he said it would be back seeking more in the next negotiation in 2026.

“When performers understand what was gained, they’re going to be thrilled,” Whitehair said.

Sean Astin, another committee member, said it was gratifying to be able to tell a Zoom meeting full of strike captains that “their sacrifice worked.”

“People have put so much of themselves. The toll it takes is real,” he said. “The level of emotion is impossible to overstate.”

The deal still needs to be ratified by the union’s national board on Friday and then by the members. The AMPTP issued a statement Wednesday saying that the contract “represents a new paradigm.”

“We are pleased to have reached this historic agreement with SAG-AFTRA that will provide stability and security for the industry and its workers,” the statement said. “We look forward to working together to create more opportunities and content for audiences around the world.”

By Kane Wilson

Kane Wilson, founder of this news website, is a seasoned news editor renowned for his analytical skills and meticulous approach to storytelling. His journey in journalism began as a local reporter, and he quickly climbed the ranks due to his talent for unearthing compelling stories. Kane completed his Master’s degree in Media Studies from Northwestern University and spent several years in broadcast journalism prior to co-founding this platform. His dedication to delivering unbiased news and ability to present complex issues in an easily digestible format make him an influential voice in the industry.

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