Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) are reportedly stalled for the time being, amid reports that the differences are simply “too great.” The union shared a thread alleging that the studios offered them less than what was offered prior to the strike.
????To Our Fellow #SagAftraMembers:
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. (1/11) pic.twitter.com/nd2PfpDH4F
— SAG-AFTRA (@sagaftra) October 12, 2023
Chief among the unions concerns are a lack of protections for actors amid the rise of AI.
A number of film and television stars have voiced support for the strike and even journeyed to partake in the picket line. Among them are Pedro Pascal, Lola Tung, Jack Quaid, Natasha Lyonne, and countless others. Some actors additionally organized a charity auction of a number of humorous gifts, from Lyonne helping the highest bidder with the New York Times crossword to John Lithgow painting a watercolor of the highest bidder’s dog. Proceeds went to actors a part of SAG-AFTRA who lost their health insurance amid the strike. All actors are required to make a minimum salary to qualify for insurance, and amid the pause in work, many no longer qualify.
Why The Unions Went On Strike
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) represents thousands of screenwriters behind some of television and film’s biggest hits. May 2023 began a complete strike from countless writers nationwide, beginning with major productions in New York City and Los Angeles. The last WGA strike took place between 2007 and 2008, and impacted countless major television programs at the time.
The recent strike is a result of a rapid pay decrease by 23% since the pandemic, as a result of both inflation and streaming services running shorter seasons. Additionally, several guild members revealed that their respective workplaces refused to impose regulations on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the writer’s room. Some tech entrepreneurs insist that AI can replace several types of writing careers, and writers are fighting back.
Among the many halted productions were “Saturday Night Live”, “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon”, “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” “The Daily Show,” “Abbott Elementary,” “Cobra Kai,” and “Yellowjackets.” Late night television continues to make a comeback amid the WGA’s September agreement with the AMPTP.
Months after the WGA went on strike, SAG-AFTRA joined them. The era of streaming services for television and film has not only changed the viewing experience for consumers, but the pay for actors, writers, directors, and crew members. SAG-AFTRA supports all of the WGA’s demands, and have several of their own. Actor turned U.S. President Ronald Reagan led the first joint SAG-AFTRA WGA strike in 1960.
Among the SAG-AFTRA demands are increased minimum pay rates, increased streaming residuals to match the rising inflation costs, and improved working conditions. Previously, many could rely on royalty payments from reruns. For streamers, this is no longer the case. Additionally, several major studios proposed the use of AI renderings of actors that are available for free use even after an actor’s death without the consent of the actors or their families.
Social Media Reactions
Despite the WGA already reaching a deal with the AMPTP, writers continue to show solidarity for the actors who remain on strike.
We are standing with you guys.
Keep going. ????????❤️
— Peter Rabbit Defending WGA & SAG (@PeterRabbit_4DX) October 12, 2023
Others continue to assert that the studios’ alleged greed is what keeps halting negotiations.
can studios and ceos stop being so greedy omg
— Brendan (@brendanlovesu1) October 12, 2023
Elsewhere, some continue to circulate a clip from a Disney+ program that utilized AI extras in a high school basketball game scene. The poor quality of AI generated figures is sparking discussion on the importance of human extras, and the impacts it could have on truly timeless film and television.
I don't know what is worse in this clip, that Disney thinks nobody will notice they've replaced background actors with digital ones or what seems to be a studio scheme to phase out opportunities for minority background actors…both are extremely pathetic.
— Christopher Marc Supports SAG-AFTRA (@_ChristopherM) October 12, 2023
The clapping this one does ????.
I’ve seen video games from 15 years ago with better animation. pic.twitter.com/xCfiRs5jX0
— Brian Perry ???? (@Road2Oscars) October 12, 2023
It is unclear when negotiations are set to resume at this time.