Hollywood actors ratify contract to formally end strike

LOS ANGELES – Hollywood actors overwhelmingly ratified a new, hard-fought deal with studios on Dec 5 that paves the way for a rebound of an entertainment industry that had seen film and television production come to a halt during a months-long strike.

The Screen Actors Guild, known as SAG-AFTRA, said that 78 per cent of members who voted approved the multiyear contract.

“This is a golden age for SAG-AFTRA, and our union has never been more powerful,” union president Fran Drescher said in a statement.

The deal includes more than US$1 billion (S$1.34 billion) in new compensation and benefits, as well as protections for actors from the use of artificial intelligence (AI) by studios, the union said.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents Netflix, Walt Disney and other studios, hailed the union contract ratification.

“With this vote, the industry and the jobs it supports will be able to return in full force,” the AMPTP said in a statement.

Voting ended at 5pm on the US West Coast (9am Singapore time), with a simple majority of members required to finally seal the agreement.

The union said 38 per cent of its members cast votes.

The tentative deal between SAG-AFTRA and Hollywood studios to end the actors’ 118-day strike was agreed to in November, and actors had gone back to work before the ratification vote.

The proposed contract contained higher pay, better bonuses for starring in hit shows or films, and the first-ever protections against the use of artificial intelligence to replace human actors.

It was ratified by the union’s leadership two days later, though not unanimously.

Union leaders have since held meetings and sent out e-mail and social media posts to members, strongly urging them to approve the deal.

“Today is the day,” said SAG-AFTRA chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, before the release of the voting results.

“This is a big US$1 billion deal with a lot of really important gains in areas like AI, minimums, streaming money,” he said. “It’s a deal that I’m really proud of.”

The vote outcome was not assured, and as details of the agreement emerged in recent weeks, warnings began to circulate online about its shortcomings, particularly over the issue of AI.

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