August 4, 2023
Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-823-8442
Washington, D.C. – The National Consumers League supports the SAG-AFTRA nationwide strike announced on July 14, 2023 against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. After a union wide vote authorized the strike with 97.7% voting yes, more than 150,000 movie, theater, and streaming actors have gone on strike. AMPTP represents over 350 American television and film production companies, including Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros, ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Netflix, Apple TV+, and Amazon.
SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher has been outspoken about the union’s frustration with the studios and networks. “The Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers’ (AMPTP) responses to the union’s most important proposals have been insulting and disrespectful of our massive contributions to this industry,” Drescher and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland have said.
The strike started after negotiations with AMPTP failed, despite SAG-AFTRA’s very reasonable demands:
- Residual payments from streaming services based on viewership numbers
- Streaming services won’t release statistics on streaming numbers to the union.
- Protections and restitution for studios using Artificial Intelligence to reproduce an actor’s likeness
- More regulation on “Self Taped Auditions” in which actors film their own auditions instead of within a casting studio. SAG-AFTRA says this creates an unfair burden being placed on actors
- Increased contributions to pension, health and welfare funds.
- Increased pay across the board and a living wage for those who work in the industry.
This strike coincides with the Writers Guild of America’s strike against the AMPTP; NCL also supports that group of writers who are striking. This marks the first time in 63 years that that both of these major unions have been forced to simultaneously go on strike.
The issues facing SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America are almost identical: workers in this industry have seen their pay slowly diminished by inflation during the last several years, they face a reduction in residuals, less working time for shows, and the threat of artificial intelligence to replace actual writers and editors.
Sally Greenberg, NCL’s CEO, explained the reason for her organization’s support. “We have always been pro worker and this strike is no exception, except that the disparity in pay between industry executives and performers is more shocking than ever. Disney CEO Bob Iger’s board of directors handed him a two-year $27-million-per-year contract extension the day before the vote. Other studio executives make many millions as well, and yet they expect performers and writers in the industry – whose creativity is responsible for the success of these shows – to work for diminishing salaries and reduced benefits such that many cannot earn a living wage. The AMPTP refuses to even consider ideas like a plan for actors to participate in streaming revenue, for example.”
NCL also recognizes the strong solidarity that these striking performers have shown. For weeks, hundreds have kept the picket lines active at major AMPTP locations. Several major Hollywood SAG-AFTRA members have given generous donations in the millions to support striking performers who may not be able to afford rent or food due being shut out of their occupation by the AMPTP. Some of these individuals include Leonardo DiCaprio, Nicole Kidman, Dwayne Johnson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Matt Damon.
We also include below the statement of AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler in support of the performers represented by SAG-AFTRA.
About the National Consumers League (NCL)
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit nclnet.org.