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SAG-AFTRA Approves Deal to End Strike

SAG-AFTRA negotiators have given their unanimous approval to a tentative agreement, marking the conclusion of the longest-ever actors’ strike in Hollywood’s history against film and TV studios.

On Wednesday, the union announced that the 118-day strike will officially come to a close at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday. The next step is for the agreement to undergo review and approval by the SAG-AFTRA national board on Friday.

Over the past few days, both parties have been finalizing the details of the agreement, which includes groundbreaking provisions for safeguarding actors from the influence of artificial intelligence and a significant historic wage increase. This deal will result in a 7% raise in most minimum pay rates, surpassing the 5% increases secured by the Writers Guild of America and the Directors Guild of America.

As the agreement approached its final stages, addressing artificial intelligence (AI) remained one of the most complex issues to resolve. Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the lead negotiator for the union, engaged in discussions via Zoom with Carol Lombardini, the CEO of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, on Wednesday to iron out the remaining details.

Last Friday, the AMPTP presented its “last, best, and final” proposal, which included an enhanced bonus for actors appearing in the most-watched streaming shows. However, it did not include a crucial demand of the union – a share of the revenue generated by each streaming platform.

SAG-AFTRA’s negotiating committee dedicated 12 hours on Sunday to formulate their response. As of Monday, the union stated that there were still differences on “several key issues.” On Monday night, the AMPTP adjusted its AI-related terms, leading to a 10-hour meeting of the SAG-AFTRA committee on Tuesday.

The committee reconvened on Wednesday morning to continue their deliberations.

The final agreement will still require ratification by union members, a process that is expected to take at least a week or more. Nevertheless, the strike has already been called off, enabling actors to return to work on Thursday.

Negotiations resumed on October 24 following a two-week breakdown. Since then, continuous negotiations have taken place as both sides gradually moved closer to a resolution.

Typically, negotiations are conducted by the staff of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the organization that represents major studios. However, in the past six weeks, four CEOs – Donna Langley of NBCUniversal, Ted Sarandos of Netflix, David Zaslav of Warner Bros. Discovery, and Iger of Disney – have been actively involved.

These CEOs initially met with the leadership of the Writers Guild of America to reach an agreement in late September. Subsequently, they held multiple meetings with Fran Drescher, the president of SAG-AFTRA, and Crabtree-Ireland in an effort to end the debilitating strike.

The strike has led to the shutdown of most TV and film production for the past six months, initially initiated by the writers’ strike and later joined by the actors’ union in mid-July. Only a relatively small number of independent film productions have continued during this time.

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