As tens of thousands of actors go into their fifth day of a strike versus the Hollywood studios, the two sides have shown no signs of returning to the bargaining table — and are even exchanging barbed messages that underscore how far apart they are.
Late on Monday night, leadership of SAG-AFTRA, the actors’ union, sent out a 12-page memo to members laying out their demands and the studios’ counterproposals. They “remain far apart on the most critical issues that affect the very survival of our profession,” the note said.
“We marched ahead because they intentionally dragged their feet,” it continued.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the organization that bargains on behalf of the studios, answered with a note to the news media arguing that the message from the union “deliberately distorts” the offers it had made.
“A strike is not the outcome we wanted,” the alliance said. “For SAG-AFTRA to assert that we have not been responsive to the needs of its membership is disingenuous at best.”
Thousands of Hollywood actors went on strike on Friday after failing to reach a new contract with the major studios, including old-line companies like Paramount, Universal and Disney, and tech giants like Netflix, Amazon and Apple.
The actors joined 11,500 screenwriters who went on strike 78 days ago, marking the first time both unions had walked out at the same time since 1960. The writers have not returned to the bargaining table with the studios since their negotiations collapsed in early May.
SAG-AFTRA’s note said that the two sides remained far apart on several key issues, including compensation, guardrails against artificial intelligence and health care and pension costs.
The union’s leadership said that they asked for 11 percent wage increases in the first year of a new contract; the studios came back with an offer of 5 percent, they said.
When it comes to artificial intelligence, the union’s leaders said they argued for a number of provisions to protect them “when a ‘digital replica’ is made or our performance is changed using A.I.”
They said the studio alliance “failed to address many vital concerns, leaving principal performers and background actors vulnerable to having most of their work replaced by digital replicas.”
The studios said that the union’s note to its members “fails to include the proposals offered verbally” during negotiations, and that its overall package is worth more than $1 billion in wage increases, improvements on residuals (a type of royalty) and health care contributions.
Regarding artificial intelligence, the studios said they offered a “groundbreaking proposal, which protects performers’ digital likenesses, including a requirement for performer’s consent for the creation and use of digital replicas or for digital alterations of a performance.”
Union leadership sent out a chart laying out each proposal and the studios’ response. Over more than two dozen proposals, the studio response amounted to a one-word response, according to the union: “Rejected.”
“So who’s making the T-Shirt that says ‘Rejected?’” the actress Senta Moses posted on Twitter.
“This is why we’re on strike,” the union note said. “The A.M.P.T.P. thinks we will relent, but the will of our membership has never been stronger. We have the resolve and unity needed to defend our rights.”