SAG-AFTRA leaders approve deal, actors strike to end after midnight

ByJosh Haskell, Michelle Fisher KABC logo
Thursday, November 9, 2023
SAG-AFTRA leaders approve deal, actors strike to end after midnight
The SAG-AFTRA strike is set to end overnight after union negotiators approved a preliminary deal with the studios Wednesday.

LOS ANGELES -- The SAG-AFTRA strike is set to end overnight after negotiators for the union approved a preliminary agreement with the studios on Wednesday.

The deal marks the end to Hollywood's longest-ever actors strike, a stoppage that began in July over issues ranging from residual payments to use of artificial intelligence.

Studios had recently warned the union that the deadline was quickly approaching to try to salvage at least part of the current production season.

The approval by the union's committee is a key breakthrough, but the full SAG-AFTRA membership still has to approve the deal. In the meantime, the union says the strike will end as of 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

The SAG-AFTRA strike is set to end overnight after union negotiators approved a preliminary deal with the studios Wednesday.

Terms of the agreement have not been disclosed publicly.

The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Performers represents some 160,000 members.

SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher posted a congratulatory message to members shortly after news of the deal broke:

"We did it!!!! The Billion+ $ Deal! 3X the last contract! New ground was broke everywhere!Ty sag aftra members for hanging in and holding out for this historic deal! Ty neg comm, strike captains, staff, Duncan & Ray, our lawyers, the IA team , family and friends. Our sister unions for their unrelenting support! And the amptp for hearing us and meeting this moment! #sagaftrastrong."

The actors strike began July 14, as they joined forces with writers who had been on strike since May 2. The Writers Guild of America ended its strike on Sept. 27 after reaching a tentative agreement with studios, later ratified by the full WGA membership in October.

The studios were represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. At times top executives of major entertainment companies including Disney, Netflix, Warner Bros. Discovery and Universal participated directly in the talks.

Contract negotiations centered over a number of difficult and evolving issues. Residual payments for actors on television, for example, had shrunk in recent years with the rising popularity of streaming services.

The streaming model has "undercut performers' residual income and high inflation has further reduced our members' ability to make ends meet," Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the national executive director and chief negotiator for SAG-AFTRA, said at a press conference.

And many actors were concerned about giving the studios too much power to manipulate their likenesses through the use of AI. They were not only worried about losing control of their own image, but feeling threatened by a technology that could eliminate the need for acting altogether.

Details of the terms will not be released until after a meeting on Friday where board members review the contract.

The other side in the negotiations, Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said in a statement that the "agreement represents a new paradigm. It gives SAG-AFTRA the biggest contract-on-contract gains in the history of the union." The AMPTP said it "looks forward to the industry resuming the work of telling great stories."

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass welcomed the deal after the strike caused a major impact to the local economy.

"I am grateful that a fair agreement has been reached between SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP after a more than 100 day strike that impacted millions in Los Angeles and throughout the country," Bass said in a written statement. "Those on the line have been the hardest hit during this period and there have been ripple effects throughout our entire city. Today's tentative agreement is going to impact nearly every part of our economy. Now, we must lean in on local production to ensure that our entertainment industry rebounds stronger than ever and our economy is able to get back on its feet."

Sandy Kenyon has everything you need to know.

ABC News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.