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The Flor-Ala

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The Flor-Ala

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SAG-AFTRA strikes: their effect on small artists


On July 14, the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), a labor union representing performers in the entertainment industry, declared a strike among their members due to contractual disputes with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The strike has had major effects on the entertainment industry in film, theater, television and many other sectors. 

The strike is currently ongoing alongside a strike by the Writers Guild of America, a similar union representing creative writers, which began on May 2. Both organizations are striking to modernize their contracts with the AMPTP in light of streaming services and developments in artificial intelligence. The official SAG-AFTRA strike website ( boldly claims that the AMPTP’s contract proposals make “abusive” demands and attempts to chip away at performers’ income.

The website lists paraphrases of the negotiation status between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP as of the beginning of the strike. Some important items demanded by SAG-AFTRA include an 11% minimum wage increase over the first year of the contract to account for inflation during the previous contract period, the allowance of casts to take part in the revenue generated from their performances being broadcast on streaming services and many more. According to SAG-AFTRA, the AMPTP either rejected these proposals outright, or countered unsatisfactorily.

The AMPTP made a press release on the same day, immediately following the strike declaration. In the release, the Alliance listed several components of its proposal. Five days later, on July 17, the AMPTP released another statement calling out the Guild’s promotion of the strike, stating:

“SAG-AFTRA continues to mischaracterize the negotiations with AMPTP. Not only does its press release deliberately distort the offers made by AMPTP. It also fails to include the proposals offered verbally to SAG-AFTRA leadership on July 12.”

After this, the release claimed that AMPTP’s proposals included over $1 billion in wage increases, in addition to other items of concern listed on the strike’s website. Towards the end of the release, it reads, “For SAG-AFTRA to assert that we have not been responsive to the needs of its membership is disingenuous at best.”

Michael Curtis Johnson, the Chair of the Department of Cinematic Arts and Theater at the University of North Alabama, sheds light on how the strike is affecting smaller artists and students. In addition to being the CAT department chair, he is also an associate professor of film production, and has spent twenty years in film writing and directing.

Johnson, having written several independent films himself, says that the strike has led to nothing happening in the industry as of right now. He said that some of the people being affected the most by the strike are actors, and the “below-the-line” crew, such as cinematographers, designers, and others.

As for the impact on the CAT department, Johnson says that it hasn’t been affected much by the strike at all.

“I think for our graduates, especially those that want to be in that below-the-line work… there’s just not going to be immediate freelance work for them to do,” Johnson said. “The same would go for actors… Just in general, any sort of lapse in film production like this, it changes lives.”

Johnson voiced his concern that the strike could cause many to leave the industry due to the inability to support themselves in it.

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About the Contributor
Trevor Mickle
Trevor Mickle, A&E Editor
Trevor is a freshman student from Jemison, Alabama, majoring in Mass Communication with a concentration in Journalism and Digital Media Production. Trevor is excited to get involved on campus help keep students informed on important topics in our community.

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