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All the heroes and killers and elves unite: updates and reactions to the SAG-AFTRA strike decision

Jul 13, 2023 | Filmmaking

SAG-AFTRA strike updates

An actor drags a bloodied writer to safety past a Melrose Avenue picket line. A giant eagle with rocket launchers attached to its wings spirals and crashes in a fireball against the Dolby Theatre. Hungover tenants stagger out of the Chateau Marmont at noon and flutter their bleary eyes at Storm Troopers that march down Sunset Boulevard. 

The looming 2023 WGA-SAG-AFTRA joint strike is unlikely to be paved with spectacle. This is not a Marvel movie – this is the cynical indie film where an out-of-work day player contemplatively stands in a kitchen and chews through a piece of peanut butter bread. It is the writer remembering what it was like to wait tables. It is the spouse telling their partner that this fall may get rough but they will not lose what they built.   

The alliance of storytellers familiar with embodying interstellar travel and Victorian politics may have one role this summer: to stand as one body for as long as it takes. 

With SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP negotiations crumbling at the West Coast midnight deadline, here are the updates and responses surrounding an impending SAG-AFTRA strike.

What’s happened since midnight on July 13th:

The SAG-AFTRA National Board will meet on July 13, 2023 to assess whether a satisfactory deal has been reached. Based on that assessment, the National Board will determine whether to declare a strike. Membership will be advised immediately of the Board’s decision by email, on the union website, and through all union communications channels. Members should be prepared for the very real possibility that the National Board will declare a strike of the Codified Basic Agreement and Television Agreement effective as early as July 13, 2023.

SAG-AFTRA is set to hold a press conference at Noon Pacific Time at SAG-AFTRA Plaza in Los Angeles, with the likelihood that they will officially declare a strike. The next step would be that the National Board establishes a set of strike rules, and then that’s when Hollywood shuts down. Auditions, promotions, and current productions will cease at that time. 

President of SAG-AFTRA, Fran Drescher, issued a statement Thursday morning:

SAG-AFTRA negotiated in good faith and was eager to reach a deal that sufficiently addressed performer needs, but the AMPTP’s responses to the union’s most important proposals have been insulting and disrespectful of our massive contributions to this industry. The companies have refused to meaningfully engage on some topics and on others completely stonewalled us. Until they do negotiate in good faith, we cannot begin to reach a deal. We have no choice but to move forward in unity, and on behalf of our membership, with a strike recommendation to our National Board. The board will discuss the issue this morning and will make its decision.

What happens next?

The film industry commences to look like this:

the last of us

The Last of Us

The temperature check from WGA and SAG-AFTRA members:

Despite the flurry of SAG-AFTRA activity, the WGA went on with picketing like it was business as usual. Filipino-American actor Mitch Narito posted the local Filipino community contributing a food table to the picketing at WB Studios, complete with homemade empanadas, reminding everyone that nobody in this stand will starve:

Encouragement from the streets:

Directly from the WGA East the final day of the SAG-AFTRA negotiating extension:

Tomorrow, studio facilities may fall silent. The glaring set lights will click off and dim. Caterers and drivers and all the pieces that make the machine run will be gone. And from outside the studio will be an organized din, as the 160,000-strong SAG body joins with the 11,500 WGA members that have been on the picket lines, and they stand together for the first time since 1960.

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