Authored by Catherine Yang via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
Summer blockbusters aren’t going to see any actors on red carpets and promotional events—the “Oppenheimer” cast attending the film premiere in the UK have just walked off to join the actors strike.
In a Thursday morning vote, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) unanimously decided to strike. On July 14, the actors will picket.
The historic walk-out comes after contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents studios, fell apart midnight July 12, even after a federal mediator was called in at the eleventh hour. The contracts were originally set to expire June 30, but negotiations were extended 12 days.
This is the first SAG-AFTRA strike in about 40 years, and the first time both actors and writers have been on strike together since 1960.
Guild leaders described the crossroads as an existential one that many industries face. Namely, will technology eclipse human contribution?
When businesses look to Wall Street for answers instead of their creative collaborators, that answer has become yes, according to Fran Drescher, SAG-AFTRA President and co-chief negotiator.
“The eyes of labor are upon us. What happens here is important, because it’s happening across all fields of labor,” said Ms. Drescher at a press conference after the vote.
“I went in in earnest, thinking we could avoid a strike,” she said. “The gravity of this move is not lost on me.”
“The entire business model has been changed by streaming, digital, AI—this is a moment of history, and a moment of truth. If we don’t stand tall right now we are all going to be in jeopardy of being replaced by machines and big business, who cares more about Wall Street than you and your family,” she said.
The big issues on the table had been streaming residuals and AI on top of the regular negotiations on minimum increases.
AMPTP released its own statement after the actors’ announcement of a strike, claiming studios presented “a deal that offered historic pay and residual increases, substantially higher caps on pension and health contributions, audition protections, shortened series option periods, and a groundbreaking AI proposal.”
Thursday morning, Disney CEO Bob Iger went on CNBC to criticize the union’s decision to walk out as “disruptive.”
“It’s very disturbing to me. We’ve talked about disruptive forces on this business and all the challenges we’re facing, the recovery from COVID which is ongoing, it’s not completely back. This is the worst time in the world to add to that disruption,” Mr. Iger said.
“There’s a level of expectation that they have, that is just not realistic. And they are adding to the set of the challenges that this business is already facing that is, quite frankly, very disruptive.”
SAG-AFTRA pushed back on AMPTP’s claims in a press conference held after Thursday’s vote.
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