Updates on SAG-AFTRA Negotiations and AI Impact on Hollywood

2023-11-03 02:48:00

Michael Buckner for Variety

SAG-AFTRA negotiators spent Thursday afternoon in a holding pattern as the union waited for a response from management to its most recent counterproposal.

Agreements around AI remain elusive and frustrating to both sides of the table. Management believes the union is focused on too many “what if” scenarios involving fast-changing generative AI technology, while actors maintain that AI is the existential threat to their livelihoods that has fueled much of the strike. The work stoppage that began July 14 has reached Day 112, marking the longest strike against TV and film producers in SAG-AFTRA’s nearly 100-year history.

As the union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers inch closer to an agremeent, sources close to the situation said there was frustration from the AMPTP side that SAG-AFTRA raised a number of issues this week that are seen by management as late additions to the demands while the union side counters that these issues have been on the table all along, but were lower on the list of priorities, until now. This is a rerun of the scenario that played out in late September as the Writers Guild of America came to the end of its 148-day strike.

The union told its members on Wednesday night that it had delivered a “comprehensive” counterproposal on Saturday, and had yet to hear a response. The union has also said that the two sides remain “far apart” on key issues in the talks.

The union spent three hours on Wednesday delivering a detailed response on AI.

Some outside the talks have grown frustrated with the slow pace of progress, which they see as reflecting a lack of urgency on one side or the other.

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After a long period of impasse, SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP negotiations resumed in early October but cratered on Oct. 11 after it became clear that they were still miles apart on crucial issues such as streaming residuals, minimum increases and AI. Amid signs of restlessness from prominent SAG-AFTRA members such as George Clooney, the sides reconvened Oct. 24 and have been in steady communication ever since.

Industry insiders are closely watching the situation as the window of opportunity is closing fast for Hollywood to get any movies or TV shows in production before year’s end. The many months of labor strife in Hollywood this year — mirroring the resurgent labor movement across many sectors of the U.S. economy this year — has taken a huge financial toll on actors, writers as well as myriad other stakeholders in the creative community.

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