The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) reached a tentative deal with Hollywood studio executives, effectively ending the 118-day actors strike. Yesterday, SAG-AFTRA announced that its national board has approved the agreement, 86 percent to 14 percent, and recommended union members vote to ratify it.
The deal is still technically pending until union members’ vote is tallied on December 5th, though the guild says some of its features will go into effect during the ratification process, such as certain pay raises. SAG-AFTRA offered a summary of the deal in its announcement:
- Streaming revenue: Revenue from streaming shows was a huge part of the guild’s fight. The guild says it “achieved the creation of a new compensation stream” for actors in streaming shows and movies. Instead of a percentage of streaming revenue, guild members will get a “substantial bonus on top of existing residuals,” the majority of which will go to actors working on “programs meeting certain viewership requirements.” The rest of the money will go to a “jointly-trusteed distribution fund” and be distributed to other actors.
- Other pay considerations: Guild members will see two wage increases in the contract’s first year — seven percent following ratification of the contract and another four percent in July next year, “making a compounded first year increase of 11.28 percent.” Members will see another three-and-a-half percent pay bump in July 2025. Background actors will see similar raises but with 11 percent up front instead of seven percent. The contract also calls for “a 153% effective increase” for series performers’ relocations.
- Artificial intelligence: The guild says it secured “meaningful protections around the use of artificial intelligence, including informed consent and compensation” where guild members are replicated digitally using AI, both for living and dead members and whether the replicas are “created on set or licensed for use.”
- Healthcare and Retirement contributions: SAG-AFTRA says it secured increased contribution caps of 43 percent for one-hour productions and “nearly 67%” for half-hour productions. The guild says this will lead to more money in healthcare and pension / retirement funds and will help keep actors qualified for their benefits.
- Diversity in filmmaking: Several items in the new contract are meant to address diversity issues, with “important gains” that include preventative measures against sexual harassment through intimacy coordinators, gender-affirming care, forbidding biased practices in hair and makeup, and diversity statistics requirements.
Deadline reported that the 86 percent support among the national board wasn’t as high as was expected and that it wasn’t clear how many voted against it because of the guild’s voting system.
Drescher discussed the drawn-out negotiations that led up to the deal in a press conference yesterday. She detailed the back-and-forth that saw the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers continually refusing the guild’s demands. She said the studios “heard that something had to be done, or this was not going to end well. So they worked internally to come up with some kind of modality” that would work for all of the studios — the bonus structure.
Drescher continued, saying that although the guild “knew that that wasn’t going to accomplish what we needed to accomplish,” she had to “wrap my mind around the fact that we needed to make this work if we were going to get into another pocket.” Ultimately, she said, “what mattered is that we got into another pocket and we did. I had to ... wrap my mind around that and not make the perfect the enemy of the good.”