The conclusion of the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike, which lasted from July 14 to November 9, marked a significant chapter in the history of labor disputes in the American entertainment industry. The strike, involving the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), revolved around a labor dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). This was the longest strike in SAG-AFTRA's history and, combined with the 2023 Writers Guild of America strike, led to the loss of roughly 45,000 jobs and an estimated $6.5 billion loss to Southern California's economy.
The core issues that led to the strike included economic fairness, residuals, regulating the use of artificial intelligence, and the burdens of the industry-wide shift to self-taping. The union, representing approximately 160,000 media professionals and entertainers, sought to achieve a contract that would address these concerns effectively.
The Tentative Agreement
The tentative agreement, reached on November 8, 2023, brought significant advantages for SAG-AFTRA members. Valued at more than $1 billion, the three-year contract includes increases in minimum salaries and introduces a new bonus paid by streaming services. This deal also provides critical protections against the unauthorized use of images generated by artificial intelligence, addressing a major concern for performers in the digital age. Fran Drescher, the President of SAG-AFTRA, highlighted the significance of this contract, stating that it would enable members from every category to build sustainable careers.
Key Advantages and Future Implications
The AMPTP, which negotiated on behalf of the studios, acknowledged that this agreement represented a "new paradigm" and offered the union its "biggest contract-on-contract gains" in its history. However, the details of the agreement were still under consideration by SAG-AFTRA's national board, with a final ratification vote by members expected in the subsequent weeks.
Overall, the conclusion of the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike marks a pivotal moment in the entertainment industry, setting precedents for future contracts and negotiations, particularly in the era of streaming and advanced technology.