US actors’ union SAG-AFTRA is asking its members to give it authorisation to strike so it can go into negotiations with studios and streamers “in the strongest possible position.”
Such a move that would add new pressure to major studios and streamers already facing a writers’ strike.
The union said any authorisation to strike does not mean that a strike will occur, but that it would allow its board to call one if an agreement cannot be reached — giving the negotiating committee a strong place from which to begin talks.
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The SAG-AFTRA union has set a June 5 deadline for its 160,000 members to cast ballots in the strike authorisation vote.
Negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the studios are scheduled to start on June 7. The actors’ current labour contract expires June 30.
“We must get all our ducks in a row should the need present itself,” SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said. “The prospect of a strike is not a first option, but a last resort.
Drescher added that the negotiations could represent one of its most consequential bargaining sessions in history.
“There has been a sea change in the entertainment industry, from the proliferation of streaming platforms to the recent explosion of generative AI, and at stake is the ability of our members to make a living. We must ensure that new developments in the entertainment industry are not used to devalue or disrespect the performers who bring productions to life.”
The Writers Guild of America went on strike on May 2 after the union failed to reach a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), whose members include Amazon/MGM, Apple, NBCUniversal, Disney/ABC/Fox, Netflix, Paramount/CBS, Sony and Warner Brothers.
Writers are striking over pay and their desire for safeguards around the use of artificial intelligence in the streaming TV era.
The writers’ strike has disrupted production of late-night shows and some TV series, but some filming is continuing. A strike by actors would lead to a broader shutdown across the industry.