On Friday afternoon, the atmosphere at the SAG-AFTRA headquarters was one of resolve and advancement as the national board hosted a press conference to announce the approval of a new contract with major studios. Despite an initial delay, the event commenced around 3:20 p.m. PT with an 86% approval vote sending the contract forward to the membership for ratification.
Guild President Fran Drescher, National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, and the contract negotiating committee were present to share the fruits of their lengthy negotiation process. “This victory is everyone’s victory,” Crabtree-Ireland stated, setting the tone for the conference.
Drescher echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the evolving nature of the contract and signaling the start of a new journey, “And we’re not over. We’re only just beginning.”
The contract’s terms were a significant focus of the press conference, highlighting a 7% raise in most minimums which breaks the industry pattern. Additionally, a new $40 million residual bonus for actors on successful streaming shows was announced, along with more than $1 billion in new wages and benefit plan funding.
The press conference also addressed the role of artificial intelligence in the industry. The guild outlined ‘guardrails’ against AI’s unfettered use, allowing the creation of digital replicas only with actors’ paid consent, a measure that underscores the guild’s commitment to protecting its members in a rapidly advancing technological landscape.
Drescher shared the pressures of negotiation, indicating a strategic shift in leadership approach, “We went to the press and said, ‘What are they doing? What are they waiting for? Are they trying to smoke us out?’ Well honey, I quit smoking a long time ago. So I think they finally realized they were facing a new kind of leadership in me and Duncan.”
The press conference marked the end of the union’s 118-day strike, the longest actors’ strike in Hollywood history, allowing actors to return to work the following Thursday.
The unanimous thumbs-up recommendation from the negotiating committee signaled a rare unity within the union’s ranks, as shared at the press conference. This unity is expected to carry over to the membership vote.
Drescher and Crabtree-Ireland, who led the negotiations since early October through a final intense two-week push, have set the stage for a year of frantic activity as the industry prepares for the summer blockbuster season and upcoming TV series productions, all underscored by the outcomes shared at the Friday press conference.
- “The Last of Us” Star Bella Ramsey Among 2023 BAFTA Breakthroughs - November 29, 2023
- Natalie Portman Opens Up About Protecting Child Actors - November 28, 2023
- Remember When Rebecca St. James Lit Up the Dove Awards? - November 27, 2023