Actors union SAG-AFTRA votes overwhelmingly to authorize strike

A writers strike picket line outside Sony Studios in Culver City
(Image credit: Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Will actors soon join Hollywood's writers on strike?

SAG-AFTRA, which represents film and TV actors, has overwhelmingly approved a possible strike, with members of the union voting 97.91% in favor of authorization. This doesn't guarantee a strike will happen, but it gives the union's leadership the ability to call one if negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the major studios, doesn't produce a new deal.

This comes more than a month into a writers guild strike that began in early May, shutting down many film and television productions. Negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers will begin on June 7, and their current contract expires on June 30. There has not been an actors strike since 2000. "Key issues include economic fairness, residuals, regulating the use of artificial intelligence and alleviating the burdens of the industry-wide shift to self-taping," according to SAG-AFTRA.

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"This overwhelming yes vote is a clear statement that it's time for an evolution in this contract," SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said. "As we enter what may be one of the most consequential negotiations in the union's history, inflation, dwindling residuals due to streaming, and generative AI all threaten actors' ability to earn a livelihood if our contracts are not adapted to reflect the new realities."

The vote raises the possibility that Hollywood's writers and actors could both be on strike simultaneously beginning next month. The Directors Guild of America, though, recently announced it reached a tentative agreement with the AMPTP on a new three-year contract. DGA Negotiations Committee chair Jon Avnet said the guild "made advances on wages, streaming residuals, safety, creative rights and diversity, as well as securing essential protections for our members on new key issues like artificial intelligence — ensuring DGA members will not be replaced by technological advances."

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.