After Hollywood writers ratified a contract earlier this month, it seemed that striking actors might get a deal soon, too. But the studio bosses are still playing hardball, and actors continue to press for a better deal on residuals and the use of AI.

by Alex N. Press, Jacobin

When the entertainment industry’s actors and writers last struck at the same time in 1980, the actors stayed out for ninety-five days. This year’s strike by members of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) looks like it will pass that benchmark.

When the Writers Guild of America (WGA) voted to ratify their hard-won contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) on October 9, with 99 percent of ballots in favor of ratification, there was hope that the actors would get a deal quickly too, allowing the industry to resume operations in time for the fall schedule. That hope wasn’t only held by many of the 160,000 members of SAG-AFTRA, but their fellow workers across the industry as well, the grips, electricians, truck drivers, costume designers, and production assistants, many of them members of the Teamsters and International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), who have endured months of unemployment as their counterparts fight for strong contracts.

sag aftra strikers

On October 2, for the first time since SAG-AFTRA walked out on July 14, the performers met with the entertainment bosses for negotiations. Studio executives including Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, Disney CEO Bob Iger, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, and NBCUniversal chief content officer Donna Langley attended the talks, which continued throughout the week.

But while rumors suggested the two sides were close to reaching a tentative agreement, the AMPTP broke off discussions late last Wednesday, October 11. With the studios walking away from the negotiating table, there is once again no end in sight to the 160,000-person strong strike. So much for a quick resolution.

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