Actors Reportedly Walked Away From $1 Billion Hike in Pre-Strike Compensation, Benefits Offer

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the negotiating entity representing the Hollywood studios and streamers, including Netflix, reportedly offered SAG-AFTRA, the union representing about 160,000 working actors, more than $1 billion in increased financial compensation and benefits before the strike call last Thursday, July 13.

“The deal that SAG-AFTRA walked away from on July 12 is worth more than $1 billion in wage increases, pension and health contributions and residual increases and includes first-of-their-kind protections over its three-year term, including expressly with respect to AI [artificial intelligence],” read an AMPTP  statement, according to Reuters, which first reported the offer, citing information from AMPTP.

SAG-AFTRA, which reportedly is calling the statement a mischaracterization of the pre-strike negotiations, is seeking  greater compensation for streaming video distribution, among other issues.

The Directors Guild of America (DGA) in June inked a new labor deal with AMPTP that featured a 21% hike in streaming residuals that includes content streaming access to foreign subscribers across Netflix, Disney+ and other major platforms.

SAG-AFTRA is also seeking greater control of actors’ AI images as the technology’s use increases with content production.

Studios already use Generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI) when making actors appear younger or older, or creating realistic images, voiceovers and communication.

For example, in the new three-part Showtime documentary Goliath on the late NBA star Wilt Chamberlain, GAI is used to recreate Chamberlain’s voice-overs from media statements he made.

The technology and practice is increasingly being used by content producers for actors in other situations — an emerging business practice SAG-AFTRA wants to stay on top of.

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The DGA labor deal with AMPTP expressly addressed safeguards for directors regarding GAI.

Specifically, the agreement outlines that “duties performed by DGA members must be assigned to a person, and GAI does not constitute a person.”

Content creators/producers are not allowed to use GAI in connection with “creative elements” without consultation with the director or other DGA-covered employees. The labor contract also calls for twice-yearly meetings with the studios to discuss and negotiate the use of GAI.

Streaming Video at the Heart of New Hollywood Labor Agreement

Agreement over a new tentative three-year labor agreement over the weekend between the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) not only averted a planned Oct. 18 strike affecting 40,000 film and television workers across 13 unions, the pact underscored Hollywood’s obsession with streaming video and content.

“The Basic and Videotape Agreements” largely involved content production for movies and TV shows distributed via over-the-top video channels for Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Apple, Netflix and Amazon Studios, among others.

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The rush to produce original streaming content has resulted in increased demands on behind-the-camera labor required to make it happen.

The proposed contract addresses core issues, including reasonable rest periods, meal breaks, a living wage for those on the bottom of the pay scale, and significant increases in compensation to be paid by new-media companies such as Netflix, Amazon, Apple and Roku, among others.

As content demands increased, production workers lamented that the average work week often ran into the weekend as Fridays and Saturdays became one long workday, or a “Fraturday.” Under the new agreement, film and television workers get retroactive 3% annual wage increases, and minimum of rest periods over the weekend, including 10 hours per 24-hour day.

“Our members will see significant improvements, but our employers also will benefit,” Mike Miller, VP and motion picture director for IATSE, said in a statement. “This settlement allows pre-production, production and post-production to continue without interruption. Workers should have improved morale and be more alert. Health and safety standards have been upgraded.”

Matthew Loeb, president of IATSE International, said the agreement should serve as a model for other workers in the entertainment and tech industries, and for so-called “gig workers.”

“We’re the original gig workers,” Loeb said.