The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) based in Los Angeles has officially gone on strike, triggering the largest shutdown the Hollywood industry has witnessed in the past 40 years.
The union has taken this step to pressure streaming giants into meeting their demands, which include fairer profit sharing and improved working conditions.
With this strike, a staggering 160,000 performers will join the picket line, joining forces with a separate strike by writers who are fighting for similar rights and better treatment in the industry.
The decision to strike comes after last-minute talks failed to produce a satisfactory agreement. The actors are advocating for better pay, improved working conditions, and a commitment from streaming services that artificial intelligence and computer-generated faces and voices will not replace human actors.
Director Christopher Nolan revealed that stars Cillian Murphy and Emily Blunt left the Oppenheimer premiere as the strike commenced.
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During a news conference held in California, the union’s executive director and chief negotiator emphasized that the strike is “an instrument of last resort.”
He stated, “They’ve left us with no alternative.”
On the previous day, negotiations between the union, known as the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), and major studios reached an impasse, leading to the unanimous vote by the union’s negotiating committee in favor of strike action.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), representing the studios, expressed disappointment over the breakdown of talks. In a statement, they acknowledged that “a strike is certainly not the outcome we hoped for as studios cannot operate without the performers that bring our TV shows and films to life.”
The statement further lamented, “The Union has regrettably chosen path that will lead to financial hardships for countless thousands of people who depend on the industry.”
Meanwhile, the Writers Guild of America has been engaged in a separate strike since May 2, demanding better pay and improved working conditions. Some writers have turned to non-contracted gig economy projects as an alternative means of employment.
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The occurrence of a “double strike” by both unions is an unprecedented event since 1960, when the SAG was led by actor and former US President Ronald Reagan. The last major strike by actors took place in 1980.
The Directors Guild of America successfully negotiated a contract in June and will not participate in the ongoing strike.