300-Plus Actors Sign Letter Urging SAG-AFTRA Leaders To “Make Clear Our Resolve” In Contract Talks: “We Are Prepared To Strike”
More than 300 actors including many big names have signed a letter to SAG-AFTRA leadership urging them to take a hard line in the negotiations for a new film and TV contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
“A strike brings incredible hardships to so many, and no one wants it,” reads the letter addressed to the SAG-AFTRA leadership and negotiating committee. “But we are prepared to strike if it comes to that. And we are concerned by the idea that SAG-AFTRA members may be ready to make sacrifices that leadership is not.”
SAG-AFTRA Leaders Say Contract Talks Have Been “Extremely Productive” As They “Remain Optimistic” That A Fair Deal Can Be Achieved
Among the letter’s boldface signatories are
Kevin Bacon, Quinta Brunson, Glenn Close, David Duchovny, Chelsea Handler, Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lawrence, Bob Odenkirk, Mark Ruffalo, Meryl Streep, Rami Malek, Patton Oswalt, Sarah Polley, Parker Posey, Amy Schumer, Kyra Sedgwick, Chlöe Sevigny and Ben Stiller.
The guild is in what could be the final week of bargaining before the June 30 expiration of its current contract, and the letter comes days after SAG-AFTRA’s leaders told their members that negotiations have been “extremely productive” and that they “remain optimistic” that a fair deal can be reached with the AMPTP.
“This is not a moment to meet in the middle,” the letter adds, “and it’s not an exaggeration to say that the eyes of history are on all of us. We ask that you push for all the change we need and protections we deserve and make history doing it. If you are not able to get all the way there, we ask that you use the power given to you by us, the membership, and join the WGA on the picket lines. For our union and its future, this is our moment. We hope that, on our behalf, you will meet that moment and not miss it.”
Here is the full letter:
Dear SAG-AFTRA Leadership and Negotiating Committee,
Thank you for your hard work and your leadership navigating through this difficult negotiation in a truly unprecedented time. As SAG-AFTRA members, we’ve been impressed over the last few months by how our leadership outlined the unique stakes of the negotiations and the need for a realignment in our industry. We were glad to see SAG-AFTRA lead the way among the guilds in identifying AI as a threat to our livelihoods that must be addressed right now, a “game changer.” We felt as though you understood how wildly our pay and our residuals have been undermined, how long we’re being held between seasons. We’ve been filled with pride watching the union come together and deliver such an incredibly strong strike authorization vote.
But solidarity demands honesty, and we need to make clear our resolve. A strike brings incredible hardships to so many, and no one wants it. But we are prepared to strike if it comes to that. And we are concerned by the idea that SAG-AFTRA members may be ready to make sacrifices that leadership is not. We hope you’ve heard the message from us. This is an unprecedented inflection point in our industry, and what might be considered a good deal in any other years is simply not enough. We feel that our wages, our craft, our creative freedom, and the power of our union have all been undermined in the last decade. We need to reverse those trajectories. With inflation and continued growth in streaming, we need a seismic realignment of our minimum pay and new media residuals, our exclusivity carveouts, and other terms. We also think it’s absolutely vital that the deal restore dignity to the casting process by regulating how self-tapes are used. This is an enormous problem for working class actors. And especially as regards Artificial Intelligence, we do not believe that SAG-AFTRA members can afford to make halfway gains in anticipation of that more will be coming in three years, and we think it is absolutely vital that this negotiation protects not just our likenesses, but makes sure we are well compensated when any of our work is used to train AI. We want you to know that we would rather go on strike than compromise on these fundamental points, and we believe that, if we settle for a less than transformative deal, the future of our union and our craft will be undermined, and SAG-AFTRA will enter the next negotiation with drastically reduced leverage.
This is not a moment to meet in the middle, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that the eyes of history are on all of us. We ask that you push for all the change we need and protections we deserve and make history doing it. If you are not able to get all the way there, we ask that you use the power given to you by us, the membership, and join the WGA on the picket lines. For our union and its future, this is our moment. We hope that, on our behalf, you will meet that moment and not miss it.
The letter comes days after SAG-AFTRA’s leaders told members that the guild’s ongoing contract negotiations with the AMPTP have been “extremely productive” and that they “remain optimistic” a fair deal can be reached.
On Monday, SAG-AFTRA’s two leading political factions said they formed a unity slate to endorse the reelection of the guild’s president Fran Drescher and secretary-treasurer Joely Fisher taking place later this summer. Drescher had been elected president at the top of the ruling Unite for Strength ticket, while Fisher was elected on the MembershipFirst slate.
That rare show of solidarity comes on the heels of the unanimous vote of the guild’s board to recommend a strike-authorization vote, which was then approved by 98% of the membership.
SAG-AFTRA is currently entering what could be the final week of its negotiations for a new film and TV contract; the current contract expires Friday at midnight PT.
The Writers Guild of America is on Day 57 of its strike against the AMPTP over its own film and TV contract.
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