SAG-AFTRA Strike: Rules and Impact on Hollywood Actors
In a significant move earlier this month, Hollywood actors, joining forces with writers, went on strike after negotiations between the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and major studios reached an impasse. With more than 160,000 members, the union’s 65,000 actors voted overwhelmingly to authorize the strike, resulting in a halt to most film and TV production. Here are the key rules and effects of the strike.
SAG-AFTRA informed its members on July 13 that “all covered services and performing work under the tv/theatrical contracts must be withheld.” This means that on-camera activities such as acting, singing, dancing, stunts, piloting on-camera aircraft, puppeteering, and performance capture work have come to a stop. Additionally, off-camera work, including narration, voice-overs, background work, and auditioning, has also been affected.
Publicity work under contract is similarly halted, resulting in many actors refraining from interviews, premieres, expos, and promoting their work on social media.
The strike was authorized due to stalled negotiations between SAG-AFTRA leaders and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Disagreements primarily revolve around the use of artificial intelligence and residual pay for actors. AMPTP represents major studios and distributors, such as Amazon/MGM, Apple, Disney/ABC/Fox, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount/CBS, Sony, Warner Bros., and Discovery (HBO), in the negotiations.
SAG-AFTRA has advised its members not to participate in AMPTP productions or audition for struck companies’ productions. However, actors can still work on independent films, and the union has established interim contracts for such actors, with 39 independent productions already signing these agreements.
Actors are also allowed to participate in student films connected to accredited educational institutions as part of a student’s coursework.
The National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting, also known as the Network Code, ratified by SAG-AFTRA in 2022, enables actors to continue participating in network shows like soap operas, talk shows, reality shows, and game shows even during the strike.
Voice work in video games, animated TV shows, audiobooks, and dubbing for foreign language projects, along with engagements in commercials, live entertainment, and podcasts, are not affected by the strike and actors can uphold their contracts in these areas.
SAG-AFTRA’s 160,000 members include not only screen actors but also broadcast journalists, announcers, hosts, and stunt performers. However, the strike specifically pertains to actors’ contracts.
Social media influencers represented by SAG can still post most promotions. However, the union advises them not to accept any new work for the promotion of struck companies or their content unless they were already under contract before the strike.
As the strike continues, the entertainment industry faces uncertainty and challenges, but the actors’ solidarity serves as a powerful statement in their pursuit of fair and equitable working conditions.