SAG-AFTRA’s National Board unanimously voted on Thursday to ask members to authorize a strike, ahead of negotiation talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
Those negotiations are set to begin on June 7.
“An affirmative vote does not mean a strike would necessarily happen, but it would allow the National Board to call one if deemed necessary during the negotiations process,” the board announced in a statement on the SAG-AFTRA website. “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.”
The union itself represents more than 160,000 entertainment and media professionals.
“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,” the statement continued.
“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!”
The board’s statement further explained its case and even cited the use of artificial intelligence, something that former “Family Ties” Justine Bateman sounded the alarm bell on just days ago.
“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,” the board said. “Add to this the unregulated use of artificial intelligence and the burdens of the industrywide shift to self-tape, and the outlook for working actors become unsustainable without transformative change.”
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.”
Starting May 18, eligible guild members will receive postcards on how to vote. Voting will close on June 5.
The current SAG-AFTRA TV/Theatrical Agreement with the AMPTP expires at midnight on June 30.
KTLA 5 News has reached out to the AMPTP for a response but has not heard back.
The call to strike comes amid the current writers’ strike, which came due to failed negotiations with the AMPTP. So far both sides on this issue have yet to come to an agreement.