Writers Guild of America workers strike outside of Paramount Pictures studios in Los Angeles. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
By V. Valentino, Red Phoenix correspondent, California.
In what can be seen as an act of camaraderie, members of the Screen Actors Guild will join striking Writers Guild of America members on picket lines throughout Los Angeles and across the country. The last time both the writers’ and actors’ unions were on strike simultaneously was in 1960 during the Eisenhower administration. Fran Drescher, president of the actors’ union stated, “SAG-AFTRA negotiated in good faith and was eager to reach a deal that sufficiently addressed performer needs, but the AMPTP’s (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers –Ed.) responses to the union’s most important proposals have been insulting and disrespectful of our massive contributions to this industry.” The failure to reach a deal has further halted production due to the Writers Guild of America Strike that began on May 2.
The endgame according to the bosses is to “allow things to drag on until union members start losing their homes.” Yet they maintain that the decision to walk away from negotiations was the union’s choice and not theirs. The union is seeking a residual formula that would account for the success of shows, yet the studios have been unwilling to acquiesce to the demands for full disclosure of viewership data. In response, SAG-AFTRA has proposed using metrics from Parrot Analytics, a third party data firm. Furthermore, they are also seeking regulations on the use of artificial intelligence which would require that actors would be paid for any AI-generated use of their likeness.
The union addressed its members stating, “As you know, over the past decade, your compensation has been severely eroded by the rise of the streaming ecosystem. Furthermore, artificial intelligence poses an existential threat to creative professions, and all actors and performers deserve contract language that protects them from having their identity and talent exploited without consent and pay.” Talks began on June 7. Drescher, who is also the chair of the negotiating committee, posted a video to members on June 24 expressing that talks had been “extremely productive.”
However, negotiations have recently been marred by rancorous sentiments being held between studio executives and all others involved. So much so, that all parties agreed to a proposal to bring in federal mediators to resolve the dispute. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service dispatched a mediator on Wednesday who was in attendance for the final day of talks. The membership of the union has been urging the leadership to assume an unwavering stance to ensure that their demands are fully met. In a letter signed 2 weeks ago by more than 2,000 actors, the leadership was encouraged to accept nothing less than a “transformative” deal.
SAG-AFTRA members have already displayed solidarity with their colleagues in the Writers Guild, joining them on the picket lines in front of major studios. As of last week, many actors were present at WGA pickets to get training on the logistics of strike operations from WGA strike captains. 98% of the actors union voted in support of a strike authorization which has given leadership to call an industry wide strike if no agreement is reached.
Show your support in Los Angeles or New York! View the picket schedules and RSVP to join and rally with the workers.