SAG-AFTRA National Board Orders Strike Authorization Vote – Hollywood Reporter

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The union is currently scheduled to begin negotiations on June 7 ahead of a June 30 contract expiration date.
By Katie Kilkenny
Far ahead of the union’s start date for negotiations, the national board for SAG-AFTRA has decided to order a strike authorization vote.
The leadership body for the 160,000-member union unanimously agreed on the measure, which does not trigger a strike. However, if union members vote in favor of the authorization, that would grant union leadership the power to call a work stoppage if they deem it necessary during forthcoming talks with studios and streamers. SAG-AFTRA says the national board decided on this approach after the union’s TV/theatrical negotiating committee recommended it in a bid to improve leverage going into negotiations with employers.

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Union members will receive postcards with instructions on how to voteThursday, and voting will close at 5 p.m. PT on June 5.
SAG-AFTRA is scheduled to begin negotiations June 7 ahead of a June 30 contract expiration date. The Directors Guild of America is presently in negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the studios and streamers in negotiations with unions, with a contract expiration date also of June 30. The AMPTP declined to comment.
“For the first time in a very long time, our member leadership stands in solidarity at the negotiating committee and the National Board levels on moving forward with a strike authorization. We must get all our ducks in a row should the need present itself,” SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher said in a statement. “The prospect of a strike is not a first option, but a last resort. As my dad always says, ‘Better to have and not need than to need and not have!’”
Drescher called for members to “follow the leads of both the negotiating committee and the National Board” and vote “yes” on authorization in a show of solidarity and strength.
Recent strikes for SAG-AFTRA include a strike against advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty in 2018 that lasted 10 months and a strike against 11 top video game companies in 2016-2017 that lasted 11 months. SAG-AFTRA also went on strike in 2000, when the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) were still separate unions. They came together to negotiate their commercials contract that year in a work stoppage that lasted six months.

Said SAG-AFTRA national executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland in a statement, “Strike authorization sends an important message during the negotiations process. A ‘yes’ vote gives the National Board the power to call a strike if the AMPTP does not negotiate fairly in our upcoming bargaining.” He added, “This will be a seminal negotiation that will determine the future of what it means to be a working performer. We must be ready to fight to secure a meaningful deal for our members.”
In its announcement, the union argued that the current industry environment, due to inflation and a “streaming ecosystem undercutting compensation,” has jeopardized performers’ ability to make a living. Like the Writers Guild of America, which is currently on strike, SAG-AFTRA also highlighted high executive pay and corporate profits as their members struggle.
In an accompanying Frequently Asked Questions page, the union also revealed that its top priorities for the 2023 negotiations include improving “economic fairness” in an environment with short TV seasons and long hiatuses (the union says it wants to improve compensation and bolster its health and pension plans), regulating the use of artificial intelligence, raising residuals payments and changing the current culture of self-taped auditions.
“Many other important issues, including those specific to particular careers and categories, will be on the table as well,” the union added.
May 18, 10:37 a.m. Updated to include mention of SAG-AFTRA’s 2018 and 2016-2017 strikes.

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