Overview of the SAG-AFTRA strike impacting Hollywood

By Leo Rodriguez July 17, 2023

SAG-AFTRA, the Hollywood on-screen talent union, calls for strike demanding increased pay, better work conditions, and protection amid technological advancements.

Hollywood's typically bustling scene has momentarily fallen silent as a result of the strike initiated by the SAG-AFTRA union, the organization representing on-screen talent. This movement commenced following the failure of talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

The striking party, SAG-AFTRA, boasts a membership exceeding 160,000 - an assembly consisting of actors, broadcast journalists, and more. Its demands, however, extend beyond mere enhancements in remuneration and working conditions. The union seeks to shield its members from technological encroachments such as AI and streaming platforms.

The aforementioned concerns have gained the support of various Hollywood luminaries. Actors like Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, and Ariana DeBose emphasized the urgency of safeguarding wages, creativity, and the power of the union in a signed letter.

The strike has necessitated a cessation of performances by union members, leading to potential challenges for production and even a delay of scheduled film releases. The prohibition of promotional work adds to the list of difficulties.

This year's San Diego Comic-Con is also under the shadow of the strike, plagued by restrictions for represented actors and previous withdrawal from presentations by Marvel, Sony, and HBO due to the ongoing writers' strike.

Although the strike obstructs the on-screen work of members in TV, film, and streaming, there are certain exceptions. These include their participation in music videos, commercials, corporate or educational videos, broadcast news, non-SAG-AFTRA podcast and audiobook jobs, and pre-approved voiceover work.

The influence of the strike does not extend to Network Television Code-controlled programs such as talk or game shows, nor does it impact live theatre - the purview of a separate union, Actor's Equity. As such, live theatre events, including Broadway plays and musicals, remain unaffected.

With SAG-AFTRA's extensive membership, recognizable faces are likely to be seen picketing in the quest for professional security. High-profile actors like Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Ben Stiller, and Eva Longoria have also echoed these sentiments, emphasizing in an open letter that any deal previously considered adequate is no longer satisfactory.