The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) members ratified the new contract won from the studios. Despite some objections in their ranks, 78.33 per cent of the members voted in favour and the strike officially ended. Guild members voted in large numbers, but those still concerned about artificial intelligence voted against the new agreement negotiated with The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).
The guild said on December 5 that of the 38.15 percent voter turnout, 21.67 percent voted “No.” That’s far from the near-unanimous support with which Writers Guild of America (WGA) members ratified the writers deal earlier this fall. But in 2020, the last time the SAG-AFTRA contract came up for ratification, the actors union saw a turnout of just 27.15 percent of its members; 74.22 percent voted to approve it.
AGREEMENT WILL BE VALID UNTIL JUNE 30, 2026
Actors will now work under this contract until June 30, 2026.
“I’m proud of our SAG-AFTRA membership,” said SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher in a statement sent to press. “They struck for 118 days to grant the TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee the necessary leverage to secure over $1 billion in gains, along with the union’s first-ever protections around AI technology. Now they’ve locked in the gains by ratifying the contract. SAG-AFTRA members have remained incredibly engaged throughout this process, and I know they’ll continue their advocacy throughout our next negotiation cycle. This is a golden age for SAG-AFTRA, and our union has never been more powerful.”
“SAG-AFTRA members demanded a fundamental change in the way this industry treats them: fairness in compensation for their labor, protection from abusive use of AI technology, strengthened benefit plans, and equitable and respectful treatment for all members, among other things,” added SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director & Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. “This new contract delivers on these objectives and makes substantial progress in moving the industry in the right direction.”
PROBLEMS ABOUT THE PROVISIONS AROUND AI
The deal, which SAG-AFTRA says is valued at $1.11 billion over its three-year term, was largely expected to be ratified; it needed only a simple majority to pass. Yet since the strike was suspended on November 8, after nearly 17 weeks on the picket lines, several SAG-AFTRA members voiced concerns about the contract – particularly over its provisions around artificial intelligence.
Of course (and clearly, per this vote), many actors were all for it. Negotiating committee member Michael Gaston sent a letter to members in November expressing the urgency of approving the deal and the stakes if members were to vote against it. Bryan Cranston presented his personal case for why he was voting “Yes” on the deal, despite what he acknowledged are imperfections. Those, he hopes, can be smoothed over in the future.
‘STREAMING PARTICIPATION BONUS’
As part of the new contract, principal performers get a minimum-wage raise of 7 percent in the first year; background actors get 11 percent. They’ll all have AI protections, including mandated consent for performers who get digital scans on a production, as well as a requirement for a studio to get consent from an estate to use a digital scan of an actor who has died. Actors will also have access to a “streaming participation bonus” worth an estimated $40 million per year ($120 million throughout the full term of the deal), which provides extra residuals for successful streaming shows and movies.
Other gains include higher caps for SAG-AFTRA’s pension and health plans, guard rails around self-taped auditions, makeup and hairstyling requirements for performers of diverse hair and skin types, a requirement for intimacy coordinators, new language for motion-capture performers, and much more.
Click Here for the Content of Open Letter from SAG-AFTRA Strikers: We will not Surrender