Board members from Hollywood’s actors union voted Friday to approve the deal with studios that ended their strike after nearly four months.
Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists’ executive director and chief negotiator, announced at an afternoon news conference that it was approved with 86 percent of the vote.
The three-year contract agreement next goes to a vote from the union’s members, who will now get to learn what they earned through spending the summer and early fall on picket lines instead of film and television sets. SAG-AFTRA is expected to reveal the terms later Friday.
Crabtree-Ireland said the deal “will keep the motion picture industry sustainable as a profession for working-class performers” and will preserve “tens of thousands of jobs.”
SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said the studios believed they could outlast actors.
“From July 14 to Oct. 3, we did not hear from the AMPTP. What were they doing? Were they trying to smoke us out?” she said. “Well, honey, I quit smoking a long time ago.”
She said the studios learned they were dealing with “a new kind of leadership” in her and Crabtree-Ireland.
The happy scene at SAG-AFTRA’s Los Angeles headquarters was as different as can be from the defiant, angry tone of a news conference in the same room in July, when guild leaders announced that actors would join writers in a historic strike that shook the industry.
The successful vote from the board — whose members include actors Billy Porter, Jennifer Beals, Sean Astin and Sharon Stone — was entirely expected, as many of the same people were on the committee that negotiated it. And it was in some ways drained of its drama by the union leadership immediately declaring the strike over as soon as the tentative deal was reached with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on Wednesday, rather than waiting for board approval.
But it was still an essential step in returning to business as usual in Hollywood, if there is any such thing. The member vote will be the last important step. No date has yet been announced for that vote. Crabtree-Ireland said a series of informational meetings to show members what’s in the contract will be held beforehand.
Contract provisions surrounding the control of artificial intelligence were among the last sticking points in the agreement.
“AI was a dealbreaker,” Drescher said. “If we didn’t get that package, then what are we doing to protect our members?”
In the wake of the announcement of a tentative deal, actors were largely optimistic about what their leaders have won for them, but their reaction to the details will be important. The last screen actors strike, in 1980, had a rocky ending, with many members opposing the contract. It took a tumultuous month before it was finally settled.