After 118 Days the SAG-AFTRA Strike is Finally Over

By: Nick Gambino

This has been a significant year for fair wage victories in Hollywood. Following on the heels of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) winning their fair contract after 148 days on strike (the second longest in their history), the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) just won their fair deal after 118 days.

“We did it,” a statement by SAG-AFTRA reads. “Our historic TV/Theatrical/Streaming strike is over as of 12:01 a.m. PT this morning. After 118 days on strike, we are set to change the future of our industry with a transformative contract that includes gains for every category of SAG-AFTRA member who works this contract.”

That last bit refers to the fact that there are several SAG-AFTRA contracts, like those for commercial acting, but this strike was specifically aimed at movies and TV.

While we wait to find out exactly what’s in the new contract, they have given some insight into what we can expect to see in the deal which equates to over one billion dollars in “new wages and benefit plan funding.”

Like the WGA before them with a success-based residual, SAG-AFTRA has secured a participation bonus for streaming. The success of streaming and the refusal to properly compensate creators was one of the biggest reasons for these strikes. By allowing those who make the product to share in the profits or at least be compensated commensurate with the popularity of streamers, the contracts now reflect the modern era of entertainment consumption.

Similar to the WGA minimum basic agreement, the SAG-AFTRA agreement with the AMPTP includes safeguards against the impending threat of AI. The studios wanted to scan actors for a one-time fee and then use their likeness in perpetuity. While we don’t know the details of the deal’s AI points, my guess is the studios will have to pay every time they want to use one of these AI representations of an actor.

With actors and writers finally operating on an agreement with the AMPTP that reflects the value of their creative work, there’s a chance for the everyday working creator to once again make a living wage in the Hollywood arts.