How long could the strike last?
If history is any guide, the strike could last into the fall or longer. Previous Hollywood strikes have lasted months, and the Writers Guild of America’s 11,000 members had already been on strike since early May before 160,000 members of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists joined them this week.
SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher told USA Today her union was prepared for a long one — perhaps through the end of the year.
“Right now, we discussed what it would cost if it went for six months, so we’re looking for the long haul,” Drescher said. “The gravity of a commitment like this is not lost on any of us. It’s major. But we also see that we have no future and no livelihood unless we take this action, unfortunately.”
“We’re prepared to be out on the picket line as long as it takes, full stop,” said Adam Conover, a board member of Writers Guild of America West who is on the negotiating committee. “We are not thinking, ‘Oh, is it going to be over in a couple months?’ We’re thinking it’s going to be over when the companies come back to the table and negotiate on our issues.”
Conover, who is also a SAG member, said the unions won’t go back to work until their demands are met.
“Our members are fully prepared for that, and the main reason is they know we’re not going to have jobs to go back to in five years if we don’t win right now,” he told The Washington Post.
When was the last time actors went on strike?
Unionized actors last went on strike in 2000 against TV advertisers, asking to be paid fees every time their commercial aired on cable television, instead of a flat rate. They eventually reached an agreement with the advertising industry.
The last walkout by actors against major TV and film studios was in 1980, when they struck over wage issues and profits from the technology of the time: videocassettes and videodiscs. Thousands of striking actors demonstrated in front of the major studios, production was paralyzed, the fall TV season was delayed, and actors boycotted the Emmy Awards.
The only previous time actors and writers have struck simultaneously was in 1960 — when the Screen Actors Guild joined a six-month-long writers strike for about one month. That action, led by then-SAG President Ronald Reagan, helped lead to the modern payment model in which actors receive a portion of profits whenever their work is re-aired.
How long did previous SAG-AFTRA strikes last?
The 1980 strike lasted for three months, and the 2000 strike lasted six months.
The 2007 Writers Guild of America strike, which didn’t include actors, lasted 100 days and helped fuel the rise of reality TV, as studios were forced to work without scripts.
In 1960, the WGA was on strike for about six months — SAG joined it for about one month.
Michael Cavna contributed to this report.