SAG-AFTRA agrees on deal with studios after over 100 days on strike

After months of protesting, actors union SAG-AFTRA said it has reached a tentative deal with entertainment companies and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on new employment terms for Hollywood creators. 

The deal was expected to all but end what has been considered one of the longest labor fights in Hollywood history, which reached crisis levels at times during the weeks of picketing. 

At the heart of the battle was high dissatisfaction over the pay doled out by streaming services, and the fear of an ever-increasing presence of artificial intelligence technology encroaching on the industry and its workers. 

The union sent a message to its members Wednesday writing, “We are thrilled and proud to tell you that today [negotiators] voted unanimously to approve a tentative agreement.”

The statement said the strike has been officially suspended with all picket locations closed down. 

“We will be in touch in the coming days with information about celebration gatherings around the country,” the statement to members read. 

“In a contract valued at over one billion dollars, we have achieved a deal of extraordinary scope that includes ‘above-pattern’ minimum compensation increases, unprecedented provisions for consent and compensation that will protect members from the threat of AI, and for the first time establishes a streaming participation bonus,” the union said.  

Actors joined in with screenwriters on picket lines over the summer in July. The strike lasted for a grueling 118 days until parties were able to reach the tentative deal in a unanimous vote on Wednesday. 

The union said Wednesday after the tentative deal was reached that “Pension & Health caps have been substantially raised, which will bring much needed value to our plans.”

“The deal includes numerous improvements for multiple categories including outsize compensation increases for background performers, and critical contract provisions protecting diverse communities,” the union said. 

The full details of the agreement would be released after the tentative agreement is reviewed from the union’s national board. 

AMPTP released a statement late on Wednesday writing, “Today’s tentative agreement represents a new paradigm. It gives SAG-AFTRA the biggest contract-on-contract gains in the history of the union — including the largest increase in minimum wages in the last forty years; a brand new residual for streaming programs; extensive consent and compensation protections in the use of artificial intelligence; and sizable contract increases on items across the board. The AMPTP is pleased to have reached a tentative agreement and looks forward to the industry resuming the work of telling great stories.”

Late last month SAG-AFTRA warned its members not to lose sight of the goal the organization had set out to achieve during its historic protest to gain leverage with entertainment companies. 

The union said at the time it remained willing and ready to continue negotiation with studios for its members. At one point, SAG-AFTRA even released guidance to members on how they can avoid “inadvertently” breaking strike rules during Halloween with their costumes. 

Then later that same month actor George Clooney led discussions with studios on ways to end the impasse between studios and the union representing actors. But, according to SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher, the plan was determined to have legal issues that caused it to not be feasible. 

An upcoming ratification vote is expected for the union, for which a date had not been set by late Wednesday. The historic length of this latest monthslong strike will no doubt have an impact on expectations for the deal’s outcome.