SAG-AFTRA Expected to Negotiate Over the Weekend



SAG-AFTRA is expected to hold bargaining sessions with the major studios over the weekend, as the two sides continue to work toward a deal to end the 106-day strike.

The sessions may be held virtually, rather than in person.

The two sides met on Friday for the third day this week at SAG-AFTRA headquarters. But four studio CEOs — David Zaslav of Warner Bros. Discovery, Donna Langley of NBCUniversal, Ted Sarandos of Netflix and Bob Iger of Disney — who have been present at the earlier sessions were not at the table on Friday, a source said. The meeting has concluded.

SAG-AFTRA declined to comment, other than to say that it remains focused on negotiating a fair deal.

The CEOs offered a new proposal on Tuesday that they hoped will help break the three-month stalemate. The actors union countered on Thursday. While some progress has been made, the studios remain frustrated at SAG-AFTRA’s bargaining position.

Nevertheless, glimmers of hope have started to spread around the industry. Michael Akins, the business agent of IATSE Local 479 in Georgia, told members in an email on Friday afternoon to be ready to return to work sometime in November.

“At this time, we have no concrete information from any studio, but the writing is clearly on the wall that the industry shutdown is in its final days,” Akins wrote. “We are confident that our members will be returning to work within the next few weeks.”

Akins wrote that some productions have already started to reach out to department heads, and that production offices could open as soon as next week.

It remains unclear whether that optimism is warranted, as the actors union still has a long list of demands.

SAG-AFTRA wants a new structure for streaming residuals, which would augment the residuals currently in place. The union also wants protections around the use of artificial intelligence to create “digital doubles.” Among its proposals is a minimum pay rate for digital doubles, as well as union consent. The studios have balked at giving the union a veto over the use of AI.

The CEOs have warned there is little time left to save the 2023-24 broadcast season, and they continue to fear that the summer movie season will be badly damaged if the strike is not resolved soon. On Friday, Disney announced that it will delay its live-action “Snow White,” originally set to debut in March, by a full year. That follows similar postponements from other studios.

The Hollywood unions, including IATSE and the Teamsters, also held a food drive at a church in Santa Clarita on Friday, where they gave out boxes of groceries to nearly 2,500 people. The unions have held similar events before, as many below-the-line workers have gone nearly a year without work.

Meanwhile, thousands of SAG-AFTRA members signed on to an open letter of support for the union’s negotiating committee, saying they would rather remain on strike than take a bad deal.

The letter came in response to an effort by George Clooney, Ben Affleck, and other A-listers to put forward an alternative solution, thereby pressuring guild leadership to reach a deal.

Kate Bond, a strike captain who has picketed at Warner Bros. and Paramount, drafted the letter.

“We knew there was this prominent group putting pressure on the negotiating committee to take the current deal,” she said in an interview. “We wanted to make sure they knew we still support the original strategy.”

The letter was circulated among strike captains. When it was released on Thursday night, it had about 3,600 signatures. It had received nearly 4,500 signatures by midday on Friday.

“We’re fighting for the actors who don’t have clout,” Bond added. “It’s really hard for more prominent members to understand. They negotiate their own contracts. They don’t work this contract. I understand why George Clooney would look at this and say, ‘I can’t work for six months because someone wants to work for $1050 a day, and not $1000 a day?’ I understand how they would be feeling. But it’s a union, and a union is about all of us or none of us.”


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