Everything There Is To Know About the SAG-AFTRA Strike

Members of the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, better known as SAG-AFTRA, officially announced on July 13 that they are on strike. This strike was led by a failed contract agreement between SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, an organization that represents television and film production companies. This decision marks both a crucial turning point in entertainment and a historical moment, as SAG-AFTRA joins the Writers Guild of America to go on strike together, which has not happened since 1960. 

In light of this news, here is everything there is to know about the SAG-AFTRA strike.

1. What is SAG-AFTRA?

Formed in the 1930s, SAG-AFTRA “brings together two great American labor unions: Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists,” according to the official SAG-AFTRA website. The website adds that the labor union represents “approximately 160,000 media artists, such as actors, announcers, singers, broadcast journalists and other media professionals to secure their strongest protections.

Per their mission statement, “SAG-AFTRA is committed to organizing all work done under our jurisdictions; negotiating the best wages, working conditions and health and pension benefits; preserving and expanding members’ work opportunities vigorously enforcing our contracts; and protecting members against unauthorized use of their work.”

Courtesy of SAG-AFTRA.

2. Why is SAG-AFTRA on strike?

According to Variety, SAG-AFTRA’s contract with the studios was set to expire on June 30 but was later extended for 12 days so both sides could make progress on an agreement. However, on July 12, the union and studios failed to produce a new agreement to both of their likings, resulting in the union going on strike. 

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher announced the news at a press conference on July 13. 

“You cannot change the business model as much as it has changed and not expect the contract to change too,” Drescher said. “We are not going to keep doing incremental changes on a contract that no longer honors what is happening right now with this business model that was foisted upon us…We are labor and we stand tall and we demand respect and to be honored for our contribution.”

3. What is SAG-AFTRA asking for from the AMPTP?

In a 12-page proposal document from SAG-AFTRA, actors are seeking better compensation and benefit plans with the rise of streaming services and the new digital age. Their most critical issues proposed were a general wage increase and an increase in residuals to better reflect the value they bring to the streamers who profit from their labor. They also are seeking protections against AI’s impact on their work and requesting consent and compensation when a “digital replica” is made of a performer. 

Courtesy of SAG-AFTRA.

4. What are the strike rules for SAG-AFTRA members?

On the SAG-AFTRA FAQ page, actors cannot participate in any on-camera acting, singing, dancing, stunt work, puppeteering or motion capture work unless otherwise specified. They are also prohibited from doing off-camera work such as audio replacement, voice acting narration or stunt coordination.

Outside the studios, actors cannot do promotional work for their movies and/or TV shows. This includes stars not participating in interviews, press junkets, premieres/screenings or any other promotion for projects affiliated with the AMPTP. They are also prohibited from posting anything on social media related to studio projects or promotions, meaning they cannot post about their upcoming films or TV shows.

However, while the actor strike occurs, actors can continue to work on commercials, sound recordings and music videos, audiobooks, podcasts or television programs covered by the Network Code, which includes variety shows, talk shows, game shows and award shows. 

5. Is there anything the striking workers are asking the public to do?

Currently, both the SAG-AFTRA and WGA are only asking the public to follow their strike rules of not accepting or doing the work of a striking writer or actor, according to their non-member FAQ page. 

Beyond this, if you want to show support for the SAG-AFTRA and WGA, union members have strongly encouraged supporters to use their social media to boost the messages of both unions and/or join the picket lines and rallies to show unity during the strike.

By Destiny Esparza

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