Title: Global Workers’ Movement Ignites as SAG-AFTRA Ends Historic Strike
The recent resolution of the 118-day strike by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has sparked a global workers’ movement as unions worldwide express solidarity and seek inspiration for their own labor battles.
The strike, which received widespread coverage from Spain to Seoul and from London, Ontario to London, England, captivated the attention of unions representing actors and entertainment professionals around the world. Upon securing a new, tentative three-year agreement, SAG-AFTRA was greeted with congratulations and admiration from unions globally. The groundbreaking deal has ignited a renewed sense of determination within the workers’ movement.
Gabrielle Carteris, the former SAG-AFTRA president who now heads the International Federation of Actors (FIA), a global federation of performers’ trade unions and guilds, commended SAG-AFTRA for their fight on behalf of performers worldwide. She emphasized the significance of streaming and artificial intelligence (A.I.) as global realities affecting the industry and the need for actors to earn adequate wages.
The triumph of SAG-AFTRA’s strike has instilled a stronger sense of resolve among performer unions worldwide. FIA General Secretary Dominick Luquer expressed confidence that SAG-AFTRA’s accomplishment will empower unions worldwide to continue fighting for better standards, respect, equity, and mutual support in the globalized entertainment industry.
Producers worldwide welcomed the end of the U.S. actors’ strike, particularly those involved in international collaborations. The German mini-major Constantin Film, known for producing the Resident Evil franchise, noted the positive impact on their paused or postponed projects that rely on cooperation with American partners.
However, there are concerns that the labor disputes witnessed in the United States could now spread globally. European unions are beginning to unite and stand in solidarity, as demonstrated by Equity, the British actors’ union, which declared itself strike ready ahead of upcoming negotiations with U.K. producer union PACT. Lourdes Diaz, Chief Creative Officer at AGC Studios, supports this observation and anticipates further upheaval in Europe.
Labor actions are less common among international entertainment unions due to several factors, including the varying structures of the industry in different countries and differences in workers’ demands. However, the universal threats to actors’ livelihoods resonate globally. Workers worldwide are seeking fair compensation, protection against rampant inflation, and safeguards against the appropriation of their work in an era dominated by streaming and A.I.
Canadian actors’ union ACTRA anticipates negotiations with North American producers in mid-2024 and aims to address similar concerns faced by performers in the U.S. These include protecting actors from the encroachment of A.I., fair compensation amidst reduced residual payments due to the streaming era, and the impact of inflation on wages. ACTRA remains firm in its resolve after overcoming an 18-month commercial lockout by the Institute of Canadian Agencies.
While desires for further industrial action may be less strident in countries like the U.K. and Canada, which heavily rely on servicing Hollywood productions, British below-the-line union Bectu conducted a survey revealing that 80 percent of freelancers had their employment directly impacted by the SAG-AFTRA strike.
Tasks lie ahead for performers and producers to find stability and common ground. While there are hopes for constructive conversations during upcoming negotiations, unions worldwide assert their determination not to be undermined by the industry. The resolve displayed during the SAG-AFTRA strike underlines performers’ commitment to addressing issues and striving for meaningful change.
As the global workers’ movement gains momentum, it remains to be seen how the fight for higher standards, fair compensation, and protection of performers’ rights will shape the future of the entertainment industry. The successful resolution of the SAG-AFTRA strike has laid a foundation and inspired global unions to stand united in their quest for justice and equity.