On June 7th the Screen Actor’s Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) will sit down with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, bargaining on behalf of the major studios and networks.
In an unusual move, the 160,000 members of SAG-AFTRA have been asked to preauthorize a strike. Union leaders will have the ability to stage a walkout if an agreement cannot be reached by June 30. The last time actors were on strike was in the year 2000 for about 6 months.
At issue are diminishing incomes affected by inflation and the rapid shift to streaming, lack of regulations surrounding the use of artificial intelligence, and protecting intellectual property. Even as movie ticket dollars are more frequently used to pay for streaming platforms, those platforms are removing portions of their libraries. In their effort to remain profitable, removing shows will reduce the residuals due to actors and writers. Artificial intelligence needs regulations to protect the income and the voices of creatives in Hollywood, their literal voices. A recent Netflix contract sought to grant the company free use of a simulation of an actor’s voice “by all technologies and processes now known or hereafter developed, throughout the universe and in perpetuity.”
At the end of June SAG-AFTRA will likely join writers currently on strike in Hollywood. The issues loom large and intricate but the demands are simple, reasonable pay and protections that preserve the rights and dignity of individual actors, writers and other creatives who want to continue making a living entertaining and informing America and the world.