SAG-AFTRA calls for strike authorization vote
LOS ANGELES - SAG-AFTRA on Wednesday said it will hold a strike authorization vote as it seeks to get its "ducks in a row" ahead of upcoming contract negotiations with major studios.
The vote does not mean that the performers union will necessarily join the Writers Guild of America on the picket lines after its contract expires on June 30.
In a statement, the union said its negotiating committee decided that a strike authorization would provide "maximum bargaining leverage" for the talks.
"We must get all our ducks in a row should the need present itself," SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said in a statement. "The prospect of a strike is not a first option, but a last resort. As my dad always says, ‘Better to have and not need than to need and not have!’"
SAG-AFTRA represents 160,000 entertainment and media professionals.
Among topics to be discussed during the June 7 negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) are artifical intelligence and profits from streaming.
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A strike authorization would allow union leaders to be able to stage a contract before their current one expires on June 30.
The last time SAG-AFTRA went on strike was back in 2000. That strike lasted about six months.
At this time postcards are being sent to eligible members and voting is set to close at 5 p.m. June 5.
SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said the strike authorization sends an important message.
"A yes vote gives the National Board the power to call a strike if the AMPTP does not negotiate fairly in our upcoming bargaining," Crabtree-Ireland said in a statement. "This will be a seminal negotiation that will determine the future of what it means to be a working performer. We must be ready to fight to secure a meaningful deal for our members."
The AMPTP declined to comment on the SAG-AFTRA move.
AMPTP is already in the midst of labor negotiations with the Directors Guild of America. The Writers Guild of America has been on strike since May 2, and there's been no update on whether that union has even resumed bargaining sessions with the studios.
The unions have all been expressing many of the same core issues, particularly around residual compensation for streaming services, and over concerns about the use of artificial intelligence in future productions.
City News Service contributed to this report.