Hollywood's actors union voted to authorize a strike if contract negotiations fail, increasing the pressure on major film and television studios already dealing with a month-long writers' strike.
After voting concluded on Monday, SAG-AFTRA reported that 97.91% of the ballots cast supported the authorization of a strike. Nearly 65,000 members, or approximately 48% of eligible voters, participated in the vote.
"Bravo SAG-AFTRA. The union's president, Fran Drescher, said, "We are in it to win it."
The largest union in Hollywood, with 160,000 members, and the major studios are scheduled to begin negotiations on Wednesday.
There are no upcoming negotiations with the Writers Guild of America (WGA), representing 11,500 film and television writers. Their strike has halted the production of late-night programs and high-profile projects, such as a new "Stranger Things" season on Netflix and a "Game of Thrones" spinoff for Warner Bros. Discovery's HBO.
The studios likely avoided a second work stoppage over the weekend by reaching a provisional agreement with the Directors Guild of America (DGA). This agreement will go into effect if DGA members vote to ratify it within the next few weeks.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, representing Walt Disney Co., Netflix Inc., and other studios, stated, "We are approaching these negotiations to achieve a new agreement that is beneficial to SAG-AFTRA members and the industry as a whole."
A strike by actors would result in a wider Hollywood shutdown and increase the pressure on studios needing programming for their streaming services and autumn television broadcast schedules.
In the negotiations, the actors are pursuing increased compensation and protections against the unauthorized use of their images via artificial intelligence. The current agreement expires on June 30.
The rise of streaming television and the emergence of new technologies such as generative AI, according to SAG-AFTRA leaders, radically altered the industry.
The upcoming negotiations "could be one of the most consequential in the union's history," according to the chief negotiator, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland.
"Inflation, diminishing residuals as a result of streaming, and generative AI all threaten the ability of actors to earn a living if our contracts are not updated to reflect the new realities," he said.