For nearly four months, TV and movie actors in the US have been on strike. Last Wednesday, the actors union reached a deal with the studios that make TV shows and movies, bringing the strike to an end. The union got much of what it was asking for, but not everything.
SAG-AFTRA* is a union that represents TV and movie actors and actresses in the US. In July, the group’s members voted to go on strike against the Hollywood studios – the companies that make TV shows and movies – to improve conditions. The strike lasted 118 days – the group’s longest strike ever.
For much of that time, the writers of American TV shows and movies were also on strike. It was the first time in over 60 years that writers and actors were striking at the same time. Both groups were striking over similar issues.
Streaming services like Netflix and Disney+ have completely changed the TV and movie business. But the agreements that the actors and writers had were made before streaming became so popular. The groups didn’t believe that their members were being paid fairly for shows and movies being shown on streaming services.
The groups also worried that with Artificial Intelligence (AI) rapidly improving, the studios would use AI to replace actors and writers.
The writers ended their strike on September 27, after 148 days. But the SAG-AFTRA strike carried on. At first the studios seemed to believe that the striking actors would give up quickly. But as the strike went on, the studio leaders began to worry because their companies were losing money. They began to take the demands of the striking actors more seriously.
Last week, the two sides reached an agreement. Complete details have not been released yet, but some of the important parts of the deal are known.
By next July, actors will be paid over 11% more for their work. Actors can also earn more money based on how many people watch their shows on streaming services. The studios also agreed to pay for more health care for actors.
The deal says that studios cannot use AI to recreate an actor’s looks or voice without first getting the permission of the actor and paying him or her.
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SAG-AFTRA’s national leaders approved the new agreement last Friday. But the deal will only become final after it’s passed by a vote of all union members. That vote will be finished on December 5.
The strikes by the actors and the writers affected many other people, like makeup artists, set builders, and drivers. About two million people work in jobs connected to making movies and TV shows. A number of these people lost their jobs.
The strikes also cost the studios and other businesses a lot of money. Roughly 176 TV shows and movies were put on hold because of the strike. California’s governor says that in all, the state has lost over $5 billion.
Getting things going again won’t be easy. It will take some time to get everything back on track and get people back to work.
* SAG-AFTRA stands for the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. The “studios” in this article are the AMPTP – the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers.