SAG-AFTRA has approved a deal to end the longest actors strike in history, the union announced on Wednesday, November 8.
Hollywood’s film and television production has been at a near standstill since the Writers Guild of America went on strike on May 2. They were joined by SAG-AFTRA, the union representing tens of thousands of actors, on July 14. The Writers Guild reached an agreement to end their strike on September 27, but SAG-AFTRA continued their tough negotiations.
The union’s negotiating committee approved the deal with a unanimous vote after days of meetings to finalize the agreement. While the SAG-AFTRA national board still needs to give their approval when they review the agreement on Friday, November 10, the strike is officially over as of 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, November 9.
“We did it!!!!” union president Fran Drescher wrote via Instagram moments after news of the agreement. “The Billion+ $ Deal! 3X the last contract! New ground was broke everywhere! [Thank you] sag aftra [sic] members for hanging in and holding out for this historic deal!”
This has been the longest strike in the union’s 90-year history, and many points of contention were settled in the months-long negotiations. The agreement, which will be released in full on Friday, secured a historic pay increase of 7% for most minimums. Per Variety, this is 2% more than the increases received by the Writers Guild of America and the Directors Guild of America. In addition, the agreement includes better health care funding, rules and regulations for studios on self-taped auditions, and the first-ever protections for actors against artificial intelligence (AI). The new agreement guarantees that studios will not use artificial intelligence to create digital replicas of an actor’s likenesses without payment or approval.
One point SAG-AFTRA was not able to lean in their favor was receiving a percentage of streaming service revenue. The union initially proposed a 2% cut — later dropping to 1% — and eventually, pivoted to a per-subscriber fee, according to the New York Times. This stood out as a major priority to the union, but it turned out to be a nonnegotiable for the streaming platforms.
The historic agreement means Hollywood will be in a frenzy as studio executives scramble to get production back on track as quickly as possible.
Disney CEO Bob Iger warned of more severe consequences if the strike waged on longer during a CNBC appearance on Wednesday.
“Obviously we’d like to try to preserve a summer of films,” he said at the time, noting he was “optimistic” an agreement was on the horizon. “The entire industry is focused on that. We don’t have much time to do that.”