Hollywood’s writers are going to have some company on the picket lines. Thursday, July 13th, the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (a.k.a. SAG-AFTRA) officially declared that it would be going on strike, after failing to negotiate a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).
“Because the AMPTP remains unwilling to offer a fair deal on key issues essential to protecting the livelihoods of working actors and performers, SAG-AFTRA’s national board unanimously voted to issue a strike order against the studios and streaming,” Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator of SAG-AFTRA, said in a press conference on Thursday.
SAG President Fran Drescher spoke with passion and anger about the decision:
“This is a very seminal hour for us. I went [into negotiations] in earnest, thinking that we would be able to avert a strike. The gravity of this move is not lost on me or our negotiating committee or our board members who have voted unanimously to proceed with a strike. It’s a very serious thing that impacts thousands, if not millions of people all across this country and around the world. Not only members of this union, but people who work in other industries…
“And so it came with great sadness that we came to this crossroads, but we had no choice. We are the victims here. We are being victimized by a very greedy entity. I am shocked by the way the people that we have been in business with are treating us. I cannot believe, quite frankly, how far apart we are on so many things. How they plead poverty, that they’re losing money left and right, when giving hundreds of millions of dollars to their CEOs. It is disgusting. Shame on them. They stand on the wrong side of history at this very moment.
“You cannot change the business model as much as it has changed and not expect the contract to change. We’re not going to keep doing incremental changes on a contract that no longer honors what is happening right now with this business model that was foisted upon us. What are we doing moving around furniture on the Titanic?
“So the jig is up, AMPTP. We stand tall. You have to wake up and smell the coffee. We are labor and we stand tall and we demand respect and to be honored for our contribution. You share the wealth, because you cannot exist without us.”
In comparison to the WGA, which has now been on strike for 72 days, SAG-AFTRA isn’t prone to striking frequently — the last time SAG in full walked off set was in 1980. It’s not a decision being made lightly, however, as we break down below.