After negotiations between the representatives of the Hollywood actors' union and the production companies broke down, it was unanimously decided to go on strike. Actors may join the protest alongside writers, which will disrupt the production process of numerous TV shows and movies.
SAG-AFTRA, the largest union in Hollywood, announced that its national board will vote on the strike order on Thursday morning. If approved, Hollywood production companies will face the first dual shutdown in 63 years and will have to halt production across the United States.
With 160,000 members, SAG-AFTRA, along with the Writers Guild of America (WGA), is demanding increased base pay and residuals in the era of streaming, as well as assurances that their work won't be replaced by artificial intelligence (AI).
President of SAG-AFTRA and former star of "The Nanny," Fran Drescher, released a statement after the contract deadline expired on Wednesday midnight, stating that the response from production companies regarding actors' concerns was "insulting and disrespectful."
She said that on certain issues, these companies had refused to engage in meaningful dialogue, while on others, they had not cooperated with them at all.
She added that they cannot reach an agreement until the companies come to the table in good faith.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents Netflix, Walt Disney Company, and other companies in negotiations, expressed disappointment over SAG-AFTRA's decision to walk away from the talks.
The group stated that they offered "historic wage and residual increases" as well as a "major AI proposal to protect actors' digital likenesses." Actors are concerned that their digital likenesses will be used without permission or proper compensation.
AMPTP said that rather than continuing to bargain, SAG-AFTRA has chosen a path that will financially harm thousands of people who depend on this industry to make a living.
Around 11,500 writers have already gone on strike, resulting in reruns of late-night talk shows and disrupting the production of fall TV programs and halting major film shoots. If SAG-AFTRA initiates a strike, it will shut down production by the remaining production companies across the U.S., exerting greater pressure on media companies to seek a resolution.
Hollywood has not faced a dual strike since 1960 when the WGA and Screen Actors Guild members went on strike to seek residuals from the sale of movies to television networks.
Currently, these unions are fighting for basic wages and residuals for streaming services, as stated by actor Matt Damon during the promotional event for the film "Auburn Hammer" on Wednesday. He mentioned that in order to qualify for health insurance, one must earn $26,000 a year, and many individuals meet this threshold with their residuals.
Damon added that there's money to be made, but it needs to be allocated in a way that cares for those on the margins.
However, many streaming services are still not profitable, as companies have spent billions on program production to attract users. Disney, NBCUniversal owned by Comcast, and Paramount Global have lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the latest quarter due to their streaming businesses. Meanwhile, the rise of online video has eroded TV advertising revenue as traditional TV viewership declines.
The WGA strike has already affected California and other areas, impacting restaurant services, prop suppliers, and other personnel who depend on the Hollywood production industry. If actors also go on strike, the projected economic losses will further escalate.
Broadcast networks have announced their fall schedules, filled with reality shows that are unaffected by the current labor tension. Independent productions can also continue as they are not bound by union contracts.