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After 118 days, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists finally reached a tentative deal on Nov. 8 with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. After 86% of the SAG-AFTRA board approved the agreement, the contract was moved to the full membership for a vote on Nov. 14. If approved by membership, the contract will be effective retroactive to June 30, and will expire on June 30, 2026.
“I’m grateful that [our union membership] hung in,” SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher said in an interview on CNN. “I’m appreciative that they showed the support that they did for our negotiating committee … We can really celebrate with this contract.”
Among the provisions being touted as wins by SAG-AFTRA leadership are wage increases, including a 7% bump for actors and 11% bump for background actors, effective immediately. Large percentage increases are also included for health and pension/retirement funds, and new streaming compensation structures have been put in place. An increased stipend was also negotiated for relocation fees for acting work outside the Los Angeles area. New provisions were put in place for auditions, particularly related to the now-common practice of having actors record and submit self-taped auditions.
The deal also provides protection against artificial intelligence, specifically relating to performer consent and compensation for the use of digital replicas. Actress Justine Bateman, however, did not think the protections were strong enough, and took to Twitter to criticize SAG-AFTRA leadership.
“I’m very disappointed that the SAG leadership and committee did not take my guidance on the AI issues,” Bateman wrote. “I’ve said from the beginning that the use of generative AI will collapse the structure of this business. I want the actors and crew to have enough self-respect to turn over a table and flip the CEOs off as it happens. They’re going to leave you with nothing left to lose.”
Drescher, however, told Vanity Fair that the AI protections were the greatest win in the contract.
“That was very important because we’re at a historic moment with all of this technology, and if we didn’t get it in a contract that protected our members right here, right now, it was going to get so far ahead of us that it would be just outside of our grasp,” she said.
SAG-AFTRA members who have spent months picketing expressed relief at the end of the strike.
“I nearly cried when the strike ended and we came to the negotiations that we have. Feeling valued is one of the most important things that an artist can have [when] creating art for film [and] TV,” SAG-AFTRA member Mel Mehrabian said. “[I’m] very excited to get back in the audition room and on tape with such a fire and drive to be better than ever. Entertainment on film [and] TV is what gets people through depressions, hard times and world changes. We are not just storytellers, we’re heart changers, that’s what this world needs and thank goodness we can continue that.”
SAG-AFTRA member Emily Redenbach described the emotional moment she heard about the strike’s end.
“I heard about it ending while I was at [an event], and I had the privilege of reading SAG’s letter aloud to the group letting everyone know it was officially over,” Redenbach said. “There were tears in my eyes, there were several breaks for applause and the room felt different. We were all so excited to have hope of projects and work and new friendships.”
Now that the strike is over, actors are not only allowed to go back to work but can resume promotion of upcoming projects. It also puts the upcoming awards season, which includes many awards shows and actor appearances, back on track.
For a full summary of the SAG-AFTRA agreement with the AMPTP, visit sagaftra.org/files/sa_documents/TV-Theatrical_23_Summary_Agreement_Final.pdf.