Hollywood’s largest union SAG-AFTRA, commonly known as the Screen Actors Guild, has authorized a strike if no agreement is reached in talks in Los Angeles by midnight (0700 Thursday GMT/UTC).
A-list stars including Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl Streep have lent their support to industrial action. If the strike continues, the stars will not be able to promote new releases or attend industry events like Comic-Con next week.
The union represents about 160,000 actors and television and radio presenters and other media professionals.
What are the union’s demands?
SAG-AFTRA is demanding higher compensation from streaming services and higher wages to counter inflation.
In addition to a salary while working, actors earn a “residual” every time a production they star in is aired on network or cable.
However, streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ do not release viewing figures and pay actors the same regardless of audience.
Also, the union is demanding security arrangements around the surrounding areas Application of Artificial Intelligence (AI).. Actors must undertake that their digital images will not be used without their permission.
What has happened in the negotiations so far?
On Tuesday, union negotiators agreed to the studio’s request to bring in a federal mediator.
SAG-AFTRA said studio representatives “abused our trust” by leaking information to the media and that there would be no change to the Wednesday night deadline that prompted the strike.
“We do not believe employers have any intention of negotiating toward an agreement,” the union said in a statement late Tuesday. “Time is running out.”
A ‘double strike’ could stop almost all production
The strike threatened by SAG-AFTRA follows similar action by the industry’s main writers union.
As of early May, there were about 11,500 members The Writers Guild of America (WGA) went on strike.
This affected much of the production for the fall TV season and the shooting of some big budget movies.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) said it had offered “generous” pay rises but could not agree to all demands.
If SAG-AFTRA announces a walkout, it will lead to a “double strike” not seen in Hollywood since the 1960s and shut down most American film and television production.
sdi/msh (Reuters, AFP)