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A Historic Strike in Hollywood

By: Ray Zhao

As talks soured over the course of July, the inevitable finally happened. TV and movie actors went on strike for the first time in 43 years, joining screenwriters in a double strike last seen over 60 years ago.

The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), had been negotiating with the major Hollywood studios for months before it finally decided to strike. The reason is similar to that behind the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike.

Both groups are striking mostly due to the unfair compensation formulas for streaming that companies including Netflix have adopted. The SAG-AFTRA negotiations ground to a halt in mid-July following the major Hollywood companies’ refusal to cooperate. Most workers agreed to the strike, which began July 14, after a year and a half of negotiations.

Many attempts to bring together Hollywood and the unions have failed – sometimes miserably. Multiple negotiations have taken place, with many executives alienated and CEOs painted as villains. This has led to widespread fears that the strike may last for longer than anticipated.

Many high-ranking leaders and officials have already stepped in to attempt to solve this crisis, and more are being called upon to do so. Los Angeles mayor Karen Bass called the actors’ strike “an urgent issue that must be resolved,” and said she “will be working to make that happen.”

The major Hollywood companies, joined into an association called the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), have adopted a solution called “divide and conquer.” In other words, the AMPTP’s strategy is to negotiate with the individual unions one-by-one. So far, this has been successful. The AMPTP broke up a strike by the Directors Guild of America (DGA) before the end of June, avoiding a disastrous triple strike.

However, this tactic is slow-acting and has led many entertainment specialists to speculate that a return to normalcy for Hollywood may only come next year. Before an agreement is reached, however, Hollywood is essentially non-functioning and unable to create new movies for the American public.

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