Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

SAG-AFTRA finalizes deal with Hollywood studios, ending historic dispute

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher, white cap front, and National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, left, greet picketers at the Netflix picket line in Los Angeles, on July 14, 2023.   (Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
By Samantha Chery Washington Post

Unionized TV and movie actors ratified a new contract with Hollywood studios, finalizing a deal that includes artificial intelligence regulations and a new compensation model for streaming projects and puts to rest months of striking and on-and-off negotiations.

Performers in the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which has about 160,000 members, approved the agreement Tuesday, with 78 percent of those who voted on it in favor. The contract will remain in effect until the summer of 2026.

“I’m proud of our SAG-AFTRA membership,” Fran Drescher, the guild’s president, said in a statement. “This is a golden age for SAG-AFTRA, and our union has never been more powerful.”

The contract includes what the union has said are “more than $1 billion” in wage and benefit gains from the previous agreement, a new compensation model for performers whose work appears on streaming services, and informed consent and compensation regulations for the use of artificial intelligence.

“SAG-AFTRA members demanded a fundamental change in the way this industry treats them,” Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, national executive director and chief negotiator, said in a statement. “This new contract delivers on these objectives and makes substantial progress in moving the industry in the right direction.”

The ratification finalizes the union’s agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, a group of more than 350 production studios, including Netflix, Paramount, Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery.

“The AMPTP member companies congratulate SAG-AFTRA on the ratification of its new contract, which represents historic gains and protections for performers,” the AMPTP said in a statement. “With this vote, the industry and the jobs it supports will be able to return in full force.”

Although the deal was greenlit by members with a slightly higher approval rate and voter turnout than the previous contract’s vote in 2020, Crabtree-Ireland noted there are divisions among the guild actors. Some performers have criticized the contract on social media for not restricting AI enough.

“In any democratic institution, there will be disagreement at times,” Crabtree-Ireland added. “But no one should mistake the robust debate and democracy within SAG-AFTRA for any lack of unity in our purpose or mission: to protect and advance the cause of SAG-AFTRA members, now and forever.”