The SAG-AFTRA National Board approved its new contract with the major studios with 86% of the vote, sending it to members for ratification.
The formal approval was announced by the union at a press conference on Friday afternoon, which finally began at around 3:20pm after an 80-minute delay. SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher, National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland and members of the union’s contract negotiating committee were on hand at union headquarters to announce the terms.
“This victory is a victory for everyone,” Crabtree-Ireland said at the start of the conference.
“This is a living, ongoing thing — a decade,” Drescher added. “And we’re not done yet. We’re just getting started.”
The deal includes a 7% increase in most minimums, a percentage that “breaks the industry pattern” according to Crabtree-Ireland. It also includes a new $40 million residual bonus for actors in streaming shows that reach a certain level of success and more than $1 billion in new pay and benefits plan funding.
Additionally, the guild has announced guardrails against the use of AI, although it does allow AI to be used to create “digital replicas” if actors are paid and given permission).
“For me, the whole thing, the weight of it all, was very stressful,” Drescher said of the lengthy negotiations. “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.”
Drescher also highlighted the importance of addressing AI in the negotiations, which was one of the final items agreed upon during the contract negotiations: “If we don’t get this package, what are we going to do?” We’re not really able to protect our members in the way they need to be protected. …If we don’t get those barriers, what will happen in three years?”
The tentative agreement, reached Wednesday, brings an end to the union’s 118-day strike, the longest actors’ strike in Hollywood history. The actors were allowed to return to work on Thursday.
Union members must approve the contract by a majority vote, although this is expected to be a formality.
The negotiating committee recommended the agreement unanimously, representing a rare example of unity among SAG-AFTRA’s many factions at a time of change in the industry.
Led by Drescher and Crabtree-Ireland, the deal was negotiated on and off from early October through the final marathon push over the past two weeks.
The pressures are intensifying as 2023 approaches. The industry is now engaged in a frantic scramble to finish films for next year’s summer blockbuster season and to start TV series before the winter and New Year holidays. December.
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