SAG-AFTRA’s negotiating committee has approved a tentative deal with the major studios that would end a nearly four month-long strike that has sidelined thousands of workers.
“In a unanimous vote the SAG-AFTRA TV/Theatrical Committee approved a tentative agreement with the AMPTP bringing an end to the 118 day strike,” the union said in a statement. “The strike officially ends at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, November 9.”
SAG-AFTRA did not disclose terms of the agreement, but said details would be released after it is reviewed by the national board on Friday.
The proposed contract — which still must be ratified by the union’s members — would boost minimum pay for members, increase residual payments for shows streamed online and bolster contributions to the union’s health and pension plans. It also establishes new rules for the use of artificial intelligence, a major source of concern for actors.
The breakthrough came after a tense week. Studio chiefs on Friday presented what they called their “last, best and final” offer, which the executives said addressed the guild’s demands. The two sides met Saturday afternoon to go over the proposal and company representatives stressed that they needed movement from SAG-AFTRA to be able to salvage the current television season.
SAG-AFTRA’s negotiating committee then spent four days scrutinizing and debating the proposals before delivering the union’s answer.
On Wednesday, after another marathon day of internal discussions among SAG-AFTRA’s negotiating committee, studio chiefs gave the union a 5 p.m. deadline to deliver an answer.
The hard-fought accord ends one of Hollywood’s most fraught periods of labour conflict and the longest ever actors’ strike.
SAG-AFTRA members walked out July 14, joining striking Writers Guild of America members, launching the industry’s first twin strikes since 1960. Writers spent nearly five months on picket lines before reaching a new contract in late September with the media companies’ bargaining arm, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
After sealing that deal, the studios were motivated to resolve the actors’ standoff in an effort to salvage the current television season and next year’s theatrical film slate. Film executives also worried that the feature film business, which has been ailing since COVID-19 shutdowns, would struggle to recover if theaters went another year without potential blockbusters to draw moviegoers to cinemas.
Four top corporate executives — Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Iger, Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos, NBCUniversal Studio Group Chairman Donna Langley and Warner Bros. Discovery Chief David Zaslav — joined AMPTP President Carol Lombardini to hammer out a deal with SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland.
In addition to Netflix and the traditional companies, the AMPTP bargains on behalf of Amazon Studios and Apple TV. Over the weekend, heads of several other studios joined the Zoom calls with SAG-AFTRA.
A high-profile warning by A-list actors helped set the stage for the work stoppage.
In late June, actors including Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Schumer signed a letter encouraging SAG-AFTRA leaders not to settle for anything less than a “transformative deal.” The letter, delivered at a time when SAG-AFTRA’s negotiating committee was struggling for traction in the talks, added pressure on Drescher and Crabtree-Ireland to hold out for considerable gains.
Negotiations resumed after the actors marked 100 days on strike.