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SAG-AFTRA's Historic Agreement Ends Hollywood's Longest Strike

by Oana-Maria Moldovan

In the afterglow of the Priscilla’s premiere, SAG-AFTRA negotiators have successfully concluded the lengthiest actors’ strike in Hollywood’s history, announcing their endorsement of a tentative agreement after 118 days of negotiations.

The union confirmed the official end of the strike at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday November 9th 2023.

This significant breakthrough was achieved through the unanimous consent of the union’s negotiating committee, marking a crucial turning point in the protracted dispute between the actors’ union and the film and TV studios.

The subsequent pivotal step involves presenting the agreement to the SAG-AFTRA national board for the final green light, starting on the 10th of this month.

In the days leading up to this agreement, both parties engaged in meticulous refinement of the deal, introducing pioneering elements.

Noteworthy would be the introduction of safeguards for actors in the realm of artificial intelligence, a critical consideration in the ever-evolving landscape of the entertainment industry and something that the union was very keen on resolving.

Another standout feature of the deal is a substantial pay hike, with most minimums set to rise by 7%. However some would say it’s not enough considering how little some of the people in this industry were paid in comparison to how much the companies were making “out of them”.

That being said, the pay does surpass the negotiated increases by both the Writers Guild of America and the Directors Guild of America. Additionally, the agreement encompasses a “streaming participation bonus”, an incentive aligning with the industry’s shifting dynamics towards digital platforms.

This bonus was long awaited by both actors and writers, considering how much some of them spoke on the issue of them not getting close to no money - some even none - from the respective streaming services.

The agreement also addresses crucial aspects such as increases in pension and health contributions, reinforcing its comprehensive nature.

 The union expressed optimism about this conclusion, stating the following: “We have arrived at a contract that will enable SAG-AFTRA members from every category to build sustainable careers. Many thousands of performers now and into the future will benefit from this work”.

While conceding that the agreement is not without flaws, committee member Ben Whitehair deems it as a “massive win” for the union. He emphasised the emotional significance of the moment, stating: “We’ve made history”.

The finalisation of this prolonged strike represents a critical moment for the entertainment industry, with the spectre of a lost TV season and a crippled Summer theatrical season looming.

While the agreement can be viewed as a significant victory for the union, the members still have to vote to ratify the agreement, a process anticipated to take at least a week or more.

However, the strike’s immediate cessation allows actors to return to work on Thursday, signalling a somewhat normalcy in Hollywood, with some projects restarting their productions that were kept on hold until now.

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