Hollywood’s Historic Labor Dispute Ends as SAG-AFTRA Strikes Deal

After enduring one of the most protracted labor disputes in Hollywood’s history, the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has reached a landmark agreement with major Hollywood studios. This deal promises to usher in a new era of compensation and working conditions for actors in the rapidly evolving entertainment landscape.

The strike, which saw tens of thousands of actors walking off sets and picket lines forming, officially concluded at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, ending a 118-day standstill that had put significant strain on the industry. The work stoppage, which began in May over issues including streaming-service pay and the use of artificial intelligence in productions, brought to light the growing concerns of performers in the age of digital media.

Negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) culminated in a unanimous approval of the tentative three-year contract by the SAG-AFTRA TV/Theatrical Committee. The deal is now set to go before the union’s national board for ratification. With a value exceeding $1 billion, the new contract includes substantial pay increases, a “streaming participation bonus,” and significant advancements in the regulation of artificial intelligence as it pertains to the entertainment industry.

The agreement represents the most significant gains for the union in its history, with the largest increase in minimum wages in four decades. It also introduces a new residual structure for streaming programs, a testament to the shifting focus of the industry towards digital platforms. Furthermore, the deal includes increased caps on health and pension funds, higher compensation for background performers, and critical protections for diverse communities.

Both sides of the negotiation table faced immense pressure to reach a resolution, with the industry’s heavyweights, including Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos and Disney CEO Bob Iger, taking part in the talks. The discussions were tense and complex, especially regarding the revolutionary terms set around the use of artificial intelligence, which the union views as an existential threat to its members.

The tentative agreement also addresses the longstanding issue of compensation for actors involved in streaming productions, a sector that has seen exponential growth in recent years. The deal proposes a novel residual for streaming programs based on performance metrics, which aims to ensure fair compensation reflective of a show’s success.

As Hollywood prepares to resume its storytelling work, the deal is being hailed as a watershed moment for labor relations in the entertainment industry. It is a significant victory for performers, who have long sought to adapt their contracts to the realities of modern content production and distribution.

The actors’ strike, which ran concurrently with a strike by more than 10,000 unionized writers, marked one of the broadest work stoppages in the history of Hollywood. The writers ended their parallel strike in September, and with the conclusion of the actors’ strike, the industry is poised to bounce back from a period of stagnation.

The deal’s approval process will involve a vote by the performers in the union, who will have the final say on whether to accept the contract. If ratified, the contract could be implemented swiftly, enabling actors to return to their jobs and continue their craft in a newly defined working environment.

As the dust settles on this historic negotiation, the entertainment industry looks ahead to a future where the contributions of actors are more equitably recognized, and the landscape of production is forever changed.