Jun 6, 2023 - Economy

Media's summer of strikes

Illustration of three raised fists with upward pointing arrow cursors forming the negative space in each palm.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Members of the union representing Hollywood actors voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike against the country's biggest TV and film studios Monday, should the two groups fail to reach a new contract deal by the end of the month.

Why it matters: If the two sides don't come to an agreement, Hollywood would likely face a two-pronged labor battle. The union representing Hollywood writers began striking last month for the first time in 15 years, sending Hollywood's fall TV schedule into a tailspin.

Driving the news: A whopping 97.91% of members of SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) voted in favor of authorizing a strike, the union said Monday.

  • Nearly 65,000 members of the union amounting to roughly 47.69% of eligible voters, participated in the vote.
  • SAG-AFTRA will begin negotiations on June 7 with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, and it will only authorize a strike if the two sides can't come to a deal. The union's current contract with the studios expires June 30 at midnight.
  • In a statement, SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher said, "Together we lock elbows and in unity we build a new contract that honors our contributions in this remarkable industry, reflects the new digital and streaming business model and brings ALL our concerns for protections and benefits into the now!"

Be smart: There's hope that the two sides can potentially come to an agreement.

  • On Monday, Hollywood studios reached a deal with the Directors Guild of America in hopes of ending the ongoing writers strike. That deal still needs to be approved by the DGA board Tuesday and then ratified by its members.

Zoom out: The media industry is facing an unprecedented number of strikes and union battles as big companies wrestle with slowing profits and fears about artificial intelligence.

  • Hundreds of Gannett staffers walked off the job on Monday, a protest that coincided with the company's annual meeting of shareholders. Union members had been demanding better working conditions and had pushed shareholders, albeit unsuccessfully, to vote to oust CEO Mike Reed.
  • More than 250 members of Insider’s newsroom also went on strike Friday amid failed talks with management over a number of contract provisions, including health benefits.

The big picture: Strikes have become a bigger part of union negotiation tactics in recent years, causing production delays and editorial disruptions.

Go deeper: Hollywood studios reach deal with directors in hopes of ending writers strike

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