2023 SAG-AFTRA strike update: union considering studios’ ‘final offer’ as A-listers urged to pressure CEOs
The SAG-AFTRA Union is still reviewing the film studios’ ‘final offer’ as strike action approaches four months
The SAG-AFTRA Union, which represents around 160,000 film, TV, and radio artists has been on strike since mid-July and is currently reviewing an offer from the studios’ which is reportedly the ‘best and final’ terms the union will be offered.
Studio CEOs were in contact with Union leadership on Saturday (4 November), and asserted that they would not make further concessions should strike action continue.
SAG-AFTRA has now been on strike for 116 days, the longest action in the union’s history, and has cost the economy of southern California an estimated $6.5 billion, through delays to major TV and film projects.
What is the SAG-AFTRA ‘final’ offer?
Included in the latest, and reportedly final offer from the studios, is a bonus structure in streaming, wherein stars could earn up to double their usual residual payment if the show they worked on is among the most watched on the platform.
Whilst the offer regarding success-based bonuses for streaming, the studios’ have refused the union’s request for a cut of total streaming earnings.
Also included in the new offer is greater protections against the encroach of artificial intelligence, which was a central bone of contention in the strike. SAG-AFTRA is still concerned about the use of AI to digitally replace background actors, which would put some of the lowest paid union members at risk of losing their jobs.
Additionally, the package includes an ‘historic’ wage increase in minimum payment for actors, said to be the highest in four decades. Speaking of the offer, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said: “We didn’t just come toward you, we came all the way to you.”
Why hasn’t SAG-AFTRA accepted the latest offer?
The offer made by the studios’ on Saturday has not yet been accepted by the union, despite some of the major issues behind the strike seemingly being addressed.
This could be because SAG-AFTRA still does think the offer meets enough of their demands, but it is also possible that the union simply wants to make sure that every member has the opportunity and time to read over the latest offer and give their feedback before a formal decision on whether to accept it is made.
Additionally, the union may well be divided over the offer, as Chelsea Schwartz, a SAG-AFTRA strike captain, posted on X calling for A listers to exert pressure on CEOs to put forward a better offer. She posted “Call the studio heads. Shout at them on social media. Tell them to accept our deal. You can help us end this strike and save our profession!” Four members of the union’s negotiating committee reposted the message, suggesting there is still dissatisfaction with the latest offer.
If the offer is rejected the strike could continue for even longer, but whether the studios will return to the negotiating table, and if the current offer is withdrawn, is unknown.