SAG-AFTRA, the prominent actors’ union, has reached a groundbreaking agreement with Hollywood studios, marking the end of a significant strike. The new deal promises substantial wage increases for actors and background performers, with immediate effects. Notably, actors are set to receive a 7% increase immediately, followed by additional raises in 2024 and 2025. Background actors will enjoy an 11% rise as of November 12, with subsequent increases mirroring those of actors.
A pivotal aspect of this agreement is the introduction of protection measures against the unconsented use of artificial intelligence. The deal mandates informed consent and compensation for the creation and use of digital replicas of SAG-AFTRA members. This move addresses growing concerns about the ethical use of AI in the entertainment industry.
Streaming Success and Bonus Fund
In an era where streaming dominates, SAG-AFTRA has negotiated a notable win for its members. A $40 million annual bonus fund will be established, catering to members whose work features on streaming platforms. While the bonus is smaller than initially demanded, it represents a significant step in acknowledging the evolving landscape of media consumption.
Health, Retirement, and Equality Initiatives
The agreement goes beyond financial benefits. It includes enhanced contributions towards health and retirement benefits for SAG-AFTRA workers. Additionally, it addresses issues of racial discrimination in hair and makeup practices, ensuring equitable treatment for actors of color. The requirement for intimacy coordinators in scenes involving nudity or sex scenes highlights a commitment to safety and respect in the workplace.
Voting and Ratification Process
With the National Board’s approval, the deal is now in the hands of SAG-AFTRA members, who will vote on ratification starting November 14. The decision period extends until December 5, offering members a chance to evaluate this historic contract.
Comparative Analysis with Other Guilds
The actors’ union has set a new standard with their wage increase pattern, surpassing the raises secured by the Directors Guild and Writers Guild. This move is seen as a significant victory in the broader context of labor negotiations in the entertainment industry.
AI Protections: A Forefront Issue
Artificial intelligence emerged as a critical issue during the strike, with the union fighting for specific protections against the creation of synthetic performers. The final agreement includes robust language ensuring that actors’ digital replicas are used ethically, with explicit consent required from both the guild and the individual performer.
Streaming Participation Bonus: A New Revenue Stream
A novel element in this agreement is the “streaming participation bonus.” It ties actors’ additional income to the success of streaming shows and movies. The top-performing projects on streaming services will generate significant bonuses for actors, creating a new revenue stream that aligns with the changing nature of media distribution.
This agreement marks a significant milestone in the evolution of labor relations within the entertainment industry. It reflects the changing dynamics of content creation and distribution, particularly in the age of streaming and artificial intelligence. The deal not only secures financial gains for members but also ensures ethical and equitable treatment in an industry that is rapidly evolving. As such, it sets a precedent for future negotiations, acknowledging both traditional concerns and emerging challenges in the digital era.