How the SAG-AFTRA/WGA Strike Affects Content Creators
What is the entertainment industry strike?
65,000+ actors represented by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) went on strike Friday, July 14, 2023 after negotiations between the union and Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Discovery-Warner, NBC Universal, Paramount and Sony were unsuccessful.
SAG-AFTRA members joined 11,000+ TV and script writers represented by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) who have been on strike since May 2, 2023.
It is the first time since 1960 that two major Hollywood unions have been on strike at the same time.
Who is involved in the writers strike?
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) is the joint efforts of two American labor unions on both coasts that represents over 200,000 writers in film, television, radio, and online media.
The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) is located in NYC and affiliated with the AFL–CIO.
The Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) is located in Los Angeles.
Together, the union advocates for its members including routine contract negotations and launching strike actions in unison when necessary.
Who is the strike against in Hollywood?
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) is a “key trade association for major film and television producers that currently negotiates 80 industry-wide collective bargaining agreements on behalf of over 350 motion picture and television producers”.
The studios represented in the contract negotiations by AMPTP are listed by WGA and SAG-AFTRA in their respective strike notices as:
Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Discovery-Warner, NBC Universal, Paramount and Sony
Who is involved in the actors strike?
Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) is the union representing “approximately 160,000 actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists, and other media professionals”.
Why are writers and actors striking?
Quote from SAG-AFTRA:
SAG-AFTRA negotiated in good faith with the AMPTP.
We said we need a modern contract that addresses modern issues.
They countered with business as usual: Income Erosion. AI Exploitation. Abusive self-tape demands. Our careers as performers are now in jeopardy. This is why we’re striking.
Streaming, AI, contract duration, and fair working conditions are all important subjects of this most recent writers strike in 2023.
The distribution of residual payments with the rise of streaming and advancements in AI technology for content creation are all modern issues that deserve to be addressed to ensure that creators are properly compensated and not exploited in their creative work.
Current contracts for both writers and actors do not address these issues, and the proposed use of AI technology by studio execs to scan actors and use their digital likeness without further financial consideration for the duration of a project.
The last writers strike was in 2007 and lasted a total of 100 days. The issues in negotiation at that time included residuals from DVDs and watching content on the Internet before streaming took over.
Is it okay to stream TV and movies during the writer's and actor's strike?
Neither union has called on the public to boycott streaming services at this time or requested a consumer strike.
There are other ways to support the SAG-AFTRA/WGA strike right now, including donations, on social media, and by avoiding crossing the picket line with creative work while the strike is ongoing.
Read on for actionable ways to get involved as a content creator to support the SAG-AFTRA/WGA strike.
How does the strike impact content creators?
YouTubers, influencers, and other independent creators should stay vigilant and proactive during the strike, as the fight for equitable wages and fair working conditions for creative work impacts all creators, union or non-union.
If you accept work from a struck company during the strike as a content creator, you will not be allowed to join WGA or SAG-AFTRA in the future.
Union content creators that need guidance on what work they can and can’t do during the strike according to SAG-AFTRA should reach out to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Show solidarity as a content Creator
There are a number of ways to support WGA and SAG-AFTRA as content creators during the strike:
- Pledge your support through the official WGA and SAG-AFTRA websites
- Tell your online audience your reasons for supporting the strike and how they can support the fight for fair wages and working conditions
- Reshare strike social media content from WGA and SAG-AFTRA channels to your audience
- Review the official Strike Notices for SAG-AFTRA and WGA
- Explore ways within your creative field to offer solidarity
- Donate and raise funds for the Entertainment Community Fund
- Support efforts to get food and drinks to the picket lines
- Don’t accept work from struck companies that would otherwise be filled by union workers during the strike
- When in doubt about new work opportunities, explore union websites for clarification or reach out for support directly
Media Solidarity with WGA and SAG-AFTRA
“…We are asking our colleagues—especially those who work as editors on TV, film, and general entertainment verticals—to join us in adding a short editorial statement to the top of reviews and other critical coverage written and published during the strikes.
Similar to a “spoiler alert” or an “editor’s note,” the statement is designed to add critical context to contemporary coverage.
Specifically, adding this statement to our coverage will allow us, as fellow workers in the entertainment industry, to clarify the unique importance of this moment in American media and labor history. It will also allow us to stand in solidarity with those in the film and TV industries whose struggle as undervalued creative industry workers is inextricably connected to our own.
By acting collectively, we have the power to shift the conversation—and the working conditions we all share.”
Media Solidarity with WGA and SAG-AFTRA Editorial Statement
This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the being covered here wouldn’t exist.
WGA Strike 2023: Critics' Solidarity Pledge
“As writers working in a media industry already devastated by the corporate class’s never-ending drive towards maximizing profit—too many of us driven into freelance work by layoffs and the disappearance of stable staff jobs—the WGA’s nightmare is increasingly our reality.
Furthermore, as critics, journalists, and editors who cover the entertainment industry, we understand better than most the tactics the studios are employing to undermine and devalue the human labor that creates the “content” on which their profits rely.
We also know that it’s our responsibility to make those tactics clear to our readers, and to show that TV and movies aren’t content but art—the fruit of human creativity and labor rather than assembly-line gruel. This is not only a matter of journalistic accuracy, it is a responsibility central to our role as critics.
This is something that many of our colleagues have been doing since day one of the strike. We are encouraging everyone to follow their lead. By acting collectively, we have the power, through our coverage, to shift the conversation.”
Content Creators: Pledge Support for SAG-AFTRA
“Performers in the film, streaming, and television industries have never faced a greater threat to their professions. Over the past decade, while giant media companies report record profits, protections and compensation for talent have greatly diminished. AI technology now poses an additional peril, and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers thinks they have the upper hand.
Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of performers aren’t getting rich through huge paydays, and their ability to have a sustainable career is in serious danger.
That’s why we need your help.
Whether you’re a member, fan, social advocate, local business owner, an organization, an elected official, or just someone who believes in fairness, we need your support.”
Content Creators: Pledge Support for WGA
“Writers are facing the most comprehensive assault on compensation and working conditions that they have seen in a generation. The studios have taken advantage of the transition to streaming to underpay entertainment industry workers, including writers in every area of work. Like too many working people across our economy, as corporate profits grow, writers are just not keeping up.
Stand with the 11,500 WGA members who write and produce the TV and films that entertain the world!“