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Home / News / The Industry / SAG-AFTRA mulls labor proposals amid reports of AI breakthrough

SAG-AFTRA mulls labor proposals amid reports of AI breakthrough

by City News Service
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The negotiating committee for the striking Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists actors’ union was continuing Wednesday to review the latest labor proposals from Hollywood studios amid rising hope that a deal could be in sight.

According to a statement from the union, the committee met with representatives of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers — which represents the studios — Monday night, then “spent 10 hours deliberating” on Tuesday.

“We will continue on Wednesday,” according to the committee.

The online trade publication Deadline reported Tuesday that negotiators for the union and AMPTP met via Zoom late Monday night. That meeting, which included Disney CEO Bob Iger, Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos and NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley, led to a possible agreement regarding protections and compensation for performers in the use of their images via artificial intelligence, Deadline reported.

Neither side confirmed the status of those talks.

Such a deal on artificial intelligence would remove a major hurdle from the drawn-out labor negotiations. The union has been insistent on securing robust protections regarding AI, while the studios have reportedly been reluctant to restrict their use of the rapidly emerging technology.

Sources told Deadline that SAG-AFTRA chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland and AMPTP President Carol Lombardini had been expected to talk Tuesday afternoon to iron out formal language of the AI guidelines, possibly signaling an end to the actors strike that began in July.

Most Hollywood production has been shuttered since May 2, when the Writers Guild of America went out on strike and SAG-AFTRA honored the picket lines. SAG-AFTRA went on strike in July, a walkout that is now approaching 120 days. 

The WGA ended its strike in late September, when negotiators reached a labor agreement with the studios. WGA members ratified the deal in early October.

According to Deadline, SAG-AFTRA and the studios have already reached agreement in principle on wages, settling on a roughly 8% increase in minimum rates, along with other long-rate wage hikes and a 100% raise in compensation bonuses for high-performing streaming content.

The two sides met for roughly two hours Saturday and for each of the previous 12 days, according to multiple media reports. The so-called Gang of Four studio CEOs — Iger, Sarandos, Zaslav and Langley — are believed to have taken part in those discussions.

On Saturday, they were joined by an expanded team of studio executives that also included Paramount’s Brian Robbins; Disney’s Dana Walden and co-Chairman Alan Bergman; Amazon Studios’ Mike Hopkins and Jen Salke; Sony Pictures Chairperson Tony Vinciquerra; and Apple Studios’ Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, Variety reported.

On Monday, SAG-AFTRA announced that it had delivered its response to the Hollywood studios’ “last, best & final” contract offer, noting at the time that the two sides were still lacking an agreement on “several essential items,” including the use of AI.

The studios have warned that unless a deal is reached within the week it will be impossible for broadcasters to salvage half a season of scripted television.

The 2024 summer movie season is also increasingly in peril, as more and more films have been delayed to 2025.

The strike is the longest TV-film work stoppage in the union’s history.

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