Hollywood has been brought to a screeching halt as members of the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) have joined the Writers Guild of America (WGA) on strike. SAG-AFTRA officially joined the picket line on July 13 while the WGA has been on strike since May. This is the first time since 1960 that both organizations have been on strike together.
IFEP Operations Director and member of SAG-AFTRA, Carly Otte, shares her perspective on the strike.
“I’ve been a member of SAG-AFTRA for nine years, and it’s amazing to see how much the entertainment industry has changed in that time. Now in 2023 everything has changed. The business model has changed to streaming, auditions are virtual, wages have not kept up with inflation and AI is being implemented in big ways. It’s harder than ever for actors, writers and other industry workers to make a living wage.”
Members of both groups are striking for increases in base and residual pay as more and more content lives on online streaming platforms, and as AI becomes more prominent, they are fighting to assure their work will not be replaced and their likeness will not be reproduced without compensation and permission.
“When I was first starting out, my residual payments were what kept me afloat. Those wages helped me pay rent between jobs and gave me access to health insurance.”
AI is becoming more and more of a concern for artists, as it allows for content creation to be produced almost immediately. While there are so many opportunities coming out of the woodwork because of these advancements, AI could never capture the true humanity of beloved writers and actors.
“I believe that AI will have its place in art, but we cannot let it replace the human experience. We cannot let it destroy entire industries. Wages must rise with inflation and procedures must change with the times. What the unions are asking for is very reasonable.”
After long negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) they called the strike to show they deserved fair treatment, and would not work without it. As a result production and promotion on many shows and movies have been stopped.
“This strike will continue to get a lot of press and attention because of the celebrity attached. But this is so much bigger than any one union or one industry. This is many decades in the making and the pandemic has pushed workers over the edge. I truly believe that we are entering a whole new era for labor unions and the working class! No one likes being out of work, but it is an exciting and historic opportunity.”
At the center of this fight is the right to free expression. Every person and worker should have the chance to speak out and demonstrate for higher wages and fair treatment.
“Exercising our right to strike is a fundamentally expressive act and I am very proud to stand in solidarity with my union. With this strike we are looking forward to the future of our industry. What we do now will have an impact for generations.”
“If you want to support the unions, please help amplify our voices! You can share your support on social media, donate - entertainmentcommunity.org and join us on the picket line - sagaftrastrike.org/picket-schedule-locations!”