As tens of thousands of actors enter their fifth day of strike versus Hollywood studios, the two sides show no signs of returning to the negotiating table — and are even exchanging barbed messages underlining how far apart they are.
Late Monday night, the leadership of the actors’ union SAG-AFTRA sent a 12-page memo to members outlining their demands and counter-proposals to the studios. The memo said they “remain far apart on the most important issues affecting the survival of our profession.”
And she continued, “We moved forward because they deliberately dragged their feet.”
The Motion Picture and Television Producers Alliance, the organization that bargains on behalf of the studios, responded with a note to the media arguing that the letter from the union was “intentionally misrepresenting” the shows it had submitted.
“The strike is not the result we wanted,” the coalition said. “SAG-AFTRA’s assertion that we have not responded to the needs of its members is disingenuous at best.”
Thousands of Hollywood actors went on strike on Friday after failing to secure new contracts with major studios, including legacy companies such as Paramount, Universal and Disney, and tech giants such as Netflix, Amazon and Apple.
The actors joined the 11,500 screenwriters who went on strike 78 days earlier, marking the first time the two unions had walked out at the same time since 1960. The writers have not returned to the negotiating table with the studios since their negotiations broke down in early May.
The SAG-AFTRA memo said the two sides have stayed apart on several key issues, including compensation and barriers to AI, healthcare and pension costs.
Union leadership said they demanded an 11 percent wage increase in the first year of the new contract; They said the studios came back with a 5 percent offer.
When it comes to artificial intelligence, union leaders said they advocated for a number of provisions to protect them “when creating a ‘digital copy’ or altering our performance using artificial intelligence.”
They said the studio alliance “failed to address several vital concerns, leaving the lead performers and actors vulnerable to having most of their work replaced by digital replicas.”
The studios said that the union’s memorandum to its members “failed to include proposals made verbally” during negotiations, and that its total package is worth more than $1 billion in pay increases, redundancy improvements (a type of royalties) and health care contributions.
In terms of artificial intelligence, the studios said they had submitted a “groundbreaking proposal to protect the digital likeness of performers, including a requirement for a performer to consent to the creation and use of digital replicas or to make digital alterations to a performance.”
Guild leadership sent out a chart outlining each proposal and the studios’ response. Over two dozen shows, the studio’s response amounted to a one-word answer, according to the syndicate: “Rejected”.
So who makes the t-shirt that says “Rejected” on it? Actress Senta Moussa Posted on Twitter.
“This is the reason for our strike,” the union’s memorandum read. “AMPTP believes we will relent, but the will of our membership has never been stronger. We have the resolve and unity it takes to stand up for our rights.”