Strike of 160,000 SAG-AFTRA Members Imminent Tonite

160,000 SAG-AFTRA members are moving to strike with 11,000 Writers Guild members against the Hollywood studios for the 1st time in 60 years. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP)

It appears imminent that 160,000 members of SAG-AFTRA will go on strike tonite at midnight PST (3 AM EST), joining 11,000 Writers Guild, who have already been on strike for nearly three months. 

SAG-AFTRA and the studio association AMPTP appear very far apart on several key issues, particularly the use of Artificial Intelligence, and a strike seems imminent. 

Additionally, many members of SAG-AFTRA have been angered by comments by studio directors that they intend to “starve out” the Writers Guild and only return to the bargaining table this fall. 

SAG-AFTRA members were incensed by bad-faith bargaining and public pressure tactics employed by AMPTP. The union declared that it would not extend the contract talks beyond midnight tonite. 

“We condemn the tactic outlined in today’s inaccurate Variety piece naming the CEOs of several entertainment conglomerates as the force behind the request for mediation; information that was leaked to the press by the CEOs and their ‘anonymous sources’ before our negotiators were even told of the request for mediation,” SAG-AFTRA said yesterday. “The AMPTP has abused our trust and damaged the respect we have for them in this process. We will not be manipulated by this cynical ploy to engineer an extension when the companies have had more than enough time to make a fair deal”. 

Many union members hope the Writers Guild and SAG-AFTRA can strike together to shut down production across Hollywood. Writers Guild strike captains have been actively training SAG-AFTRA strike captains for any potential strike. 

Unions across Hollywood have pledged to support SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild if they remain on strike. 

“Together, our solidarity is not to be underestimated,” said five major Hollywood unions in a joint statement. “The Hollywood Unions and Guilds stand more united than ever.”

Workers from various unions and big stars, including Ben Stiller, Boots Riley. Lula Wang, Jay Roach, Daniel Kwan, and Natasha Lyonne have launched The Union Solidarity Coalition (TUSC)

TUSC hopes to inspire not just workers in Hollywood to take action, but to inspire workers around the country. The group launches its effort during the “Summer of Strikes” with major strikes looming of over 340,000 Teamsters at UPS and 150,000 UAW Members employed by the “Big Three” automakers as well as elsewhere. Strikes elsewhere, in particular, a series of roving hotel workers strike throughout Southern California, including near Disneyland, have helped Hollywood workers to think about how they can expand their solidarity to help other unions.

“Watching people honor our picket lines touched and inspired us, and presented us with a model for unity in action,” said the TUSC in a statement. “Though the [Writers’ Guild] strike is the catalyst for creating TUSC, we feel this is just the beginning of a larger, urgent movement of solidarity between all of the industry unions, and also our coworkers who aren’t part of a union. We want to think big about how we can support each other in the face of a national labor crisis.”

Currently, the TUSC initially focuses on fundraising to provide health insurance for striking Hollywood workers but plans to announce more organizing efforts aimed at helping workers across industries. (If you wish to donate to their efforts to fund health insurance for strikers, you can do so here)

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About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing nearly 2,000 stories from 46 states, Elk traveled with Lula from Sáo Bernando do Campos all the way to the Oval Office in the White House. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]