SAG-AFTRA has decided to seek a strike authorization vote from its membership amid contentious film and TV contract talks with the major studios — unless a deal is reached by June 30.
The performers union said in a message to members Sunday night that the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers has pushed for “outrageous rollbacks” in the negotiations that began May 31. SAG-AFTRA’s current master contract for film and primetime TV expires June 30. The union has about 160,000 members.
SAG-AFTRA’s national board voted unanimously on Sunday to seek the strike authorization vote, following an update from the union’s negotiating committee. SAG-AFTRA reps say the contract on the table covers 160,000 members working in primetime TV and film.
“This is a time of extraordinary entertainment and media industry profits,” it said in its “frequently asked questions” sectino of the site. “Global online distributors like Netflix, and now Amazon, are expanding the market for scripted film and television across the globe. Management’s demands will mean more for less – more hours, more work, more unreimbursed travel and less opportunity for fair compensation.”
“There is unprecedented consumer demand for content and record industry profits. Actors are among the key drivers of the industry’s monumental success and should receive appropriate compensation, benefits, and standing on par with their overall contribution. Only a fair contract agreement will ensure this.”
Sunday’s message to members was the first disclosure by the union about the negotiations since they began. It also did not indicate the timetable for when members will be asked to vote for the strike authorization.
“A strike authorization is not a strike. It is a powerful tool that authorizes your negotiators to call a strike if they are unable to secure a fair deal. If a strike authorization referendum is issued, you will receive additional information on the voting process. That said, our negotiating committee will use this tool if necessary.”
SAG-AFTRA’s move is an echo of the tension that arose in March and April between the AMPTP and the Writers Guild of America. The WGA West and WGA East received overwhelming support from its members for a strike authorization vote as contract negotiations appeared to stall in April. As the industry girded for a work stoppage, the sides reached a deal with barely an hour to go until the May 1 contract expiration deadline.