(LOS ANGELES) Leaders of a Hollywood actors union voted on Thursday to join screenwriters in the first joint strike in more than six decades, halting production in the entertainment industry after talks broke down for a new deal with studios and streaming services.
Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, chief executive of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (SAG-AFTRA), told a press conference that union leaders had decided to put in motion the work stoppage hours after their contract expired and talks broke down with the Alliance of Motion Picture and television producers representing employers such as Disney, Netflix, Amazon and others.
“A strike is an instrument of last resort,” he said. Union leaders told a news conference they had voted unanimously for a strike to begin at midnight. Outside Netflix’s Hollywood offices, striking screenwriters chanted “Pay your actors!” immediately after the strike was announced.
“Employers make Wall Street and greed their priority and they forget about the essential contributors who run the machine,” said former The Nanny star and SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher in an impassioned speech that drew applause from the union leaders in the room. ” It’s disgusting. Shame on them. They stand on the wrong side of history. »
With a strike looming, the London premiere of Christopher Nolan Oppenheimer’s film has been brought forward an hour so the cast can walk the red carpet ahead of the SAG board announcement.
The impending strike also cast a shadow over the 75th Emmy Awards, whose nominations were announced a day earlier.
Disney CEO Bob Iger warned Thursday that a strike by actors would have a “very detrimental effect on the entire industry.”
“This is the worst time in the world to add to this disruption,” Mr. Iger said during an appearance on CNBC. There are expectations from [SAG-AFTRA and WGA] that just aren’t realistic. »
A nearly two-week extension of the contract and negotiations only increased the hostility between the two groups. Drescher said the extension made us “feel like we were duped, like maybe it was just to let the studios promote their summer movies for another 12 days.”
Before talks began on June 7, the 65,000 cast members voted overwhelmingly for a strike mandate, as the Writers Guild of America did when their agreement expired more than two years ago. month.
As the initial deadline approached in late June, more than 1,000 union members, including Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence and Bob Odenkirk, added their names to a letter signaling to leaders their willingness to strike if necessary.
SAG-AFTRA represents more than 160,000 film actors, television journalists, announcers, entertainers and stunt performers. The walkout only affects the 65,000 actors in the television and film production union, who voted overwhelmingly to allow their leaders to go on strike before talks begin on June 7. The Broadway cast said in a statement that they stand “in solidarity” with SAG-AFTRA workers.
The 11,500 members of the Writers Guild of America have been on strike since their own talks broke down and their contract expired on May 2. No sign of a solution is on the horizon, no negotiations even being planned.
Negotiating issues include the unregulated use of artificial intelligence and the effects on residual compensation caused by the video-on-demand ecosystem that has emerged in recent years.