As actors reach day 100, SAG-AFTRA has no plans to “agree” with studios, but backchannel pressure leads to “optimism” to resume talks

The actor’s strike has reached its 100th day as talks between SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP stall.

With the continued support of its members and supporting sister unions such as the WGA, IATSE and Teamsters, chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland remains confident that all parties can reach a fair deal.

“I find it so impressive, the unity, the strength of our members. As you have seen on the picket lines, our members are fully engaged. Our operational captains are always visible; “For everyone who comes to the rallies, there’s a common goal that will definitely keep us going until there’s an agreement,” Crabtree-Ireland told Deadline on Thursday after a walkout protest in honor of the strike captains.

“I didn’t expect [negotiations] “Should last so long,” he continued. “The time spent without negotiations is completely unacceptable. The studios and streamers should now be back at the table with us. They should have been there for the first 80 days, but that was not the case. I am very much looking forward to that happening and I believe it will happen soon. I believe there is a lot of effort outside of formal channels to bring people back to the table, so I am optimistic that this will happen soon. But I know we’ll just stay strong and get a fair deal.”

Michelle Hurd, a member of the SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee who most recently played the lead role Star Trek: Picard, looks back at how things unfolded in 100 days while acknowledging the plight of other workers affected by the strike.

‘It was interesting. The first day was a bit like a liberation from the room. Then we all came out and said, ‘Yes!’ Strike, strike, strike, let’s get a deal.’ And on day 100, I’m even stronger,” Hurd said.

“The solidarity I feel when I’m on the street is incredible. The fact that the WGA is still behind us on this is phenomenal because they already have their contract,” she continued. “When we talk to the public, people ask, ‘What about the other people, like the workers below the line, the makeup artists, the people who are part of the tentacles of our industry?’ It hurts them, but they’re here. They understand because they’ve been hurt too. They never had the contracts either. That’s why we’re all much stronger and united in our fight.”

Hurd understands the call for the negotiating committee to “just end it,” but she doesn’t want the sacrifices to be in vain.

“If we resigned to day 100, what was it all for? We are on day 100 because [the AMPTP] did not come to the table. When they come to the table, we are more than ready, enthusiastic and ready to negotiate,” she said.

She added: “The strange thing is that I think they thought the longer they waited for us, the more we would break down and disintegrate and be weakened by our resolve.” On the contrary: we are a little angrier. We feel disrespected and condescending because they think we are stupid enough to just stay crazy and forget why we are fighting for this good contract. The reason we’re fighting is so that the working-class actor has the opportunity to make a living in this beautiful, sacred art form of storytelling that we all love.”

Hurd cited the lack of funding increases for SAG-AFTRA, which “reflects the inflation of the past forty years.” There was something ambivalent about her home, which she shares with her husband and fellow actor Garret Dillahunt.

“Why do I work in an industry where these numbers have not increased since 1983? On the 100th day, we are more united and more solidarity. We are more focused on what we want, which is a good, fair wage contract that helps our entire union, our 160,000 members in various categories. I feel stronger than ever.”

She added: “We are on the right side of history. I understand the pain. I feel it myself; I am married to an actor. We made a terrible decision because we both no longer have jobs. I am 100% influenced by it. But one day longer, one day stronger. We will get what we want.”

The strikes produced actors like John Ortiz, Hollywood stars whose support keeps others coming back on the best of days and the worst.

“As I got older, I became proud and a homebody. But since the strike started, I have been coming out every day. I made this deal with myself,” said Ortiz, who stars in the Cord Jefferson-directed film American fiction.

He continued: “What I’ve found is that the days I tell myself I’m going to put on my headphones and go for a walk are the days I connect with someone. Yesterday I spoke to someone at Sony who told me how much she wanted to walk around the whole studio with me, but she couldn’t because she had just had surgery. She had just beaten cancer. We had a great conversation about life and gratitude and the importance of day, no matter what. She’s just one example of how you can find inspiration on the picket line and connect organically if you keep an open mind.”

For more than thirty years, Ortiz helped pave the way for Latino talent in theater and Hollywood. The industry veteran is often seen participating in the weekly flash groups organized by Latinas Acting Up, a group founded by Diana Maria Rivas and Lisa Vidal.

“I made a lot of connections with people who you discover have commonalities that span all these wonderful areas of life, like cultures, races, identities and professions. As painful as it is, it can also be pretty cool. We all want to go back to work,” Ortiz said. “I have two more scenes to shoot for this series in Toronto. I have another movie to start. I also have two films that I’m so proud of that I can’t promote them, and I won’t until we get a fair deal.”

The Negotiating Committee recognizes that both good and bad days are at stake. Deadline spoke with SAG-AFTRA members who talked about how finding community has turned many of their bad days into good ones. Hurd echoes Ortiz’s sentiments: to listen openly or just say hello.

“I came here feeling really angry about what was going on and instead of holding on to that anger, I feel inspired, encouraged and supported. There is something crazy about the world of batting. You have a community of people who become your family. For example, when you feel vulnerable or feel like you need a shoulder to cry on or an ear to hear you. You can come to the picket lines and meet people you may never have known before and may never have had the opportunity to meet. You meet eyes and suddenly it’s like, “Oh my God, I’m so glad I saw you.” Your worst day becomes your best day in a situation that seems terrible but isn’t. There is actually power.”

Kevin E. West, a member of the negotiating committee most recently in The Righteous Jewelsinvites members to continue to come out, but recognizes that the time available for many is limited.

“Solidarity is not about a percentage. Solidarity is a core belief system from the perspective of your personal power, your financial dependence and your emotional state of mind. We just need everyone to come out when they can and as often as they can,” he said. “Whether it’s 45 minutes three days a week or three hours two days a week. It makes no difference to us. Choose a ticket anywhere in this country: New England, Mid-Atlantic, Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles. Go out there and do what you can. Bring a friend and meet here instead of lunch. You can go to the wicket line with a snack and a plate. They just have to show us we’re not going anywhere.”

Nicole Cyrille, a member of the SAG-AFTRA bargaining committee and president of LA Performers with Disabilities, praised the high turnout of members over 100 days. She helped organize marches such as “Ramping Up: A Cross-Union Picket For Disabled Artists” in August.

“Every member who shows up is equally important. That’s the power. We show strength by being united, and this union is more united than ever before,” said Cyrille. “You can see the energy of the members who are here. We are committed and motivated and will not relent until we receive a fair deal for our entire membership. Nobody wants to hit, right? But seeing it in community and unity is something we will hold in our hearts forever. So thank you to every member who walked the line, carried a sign and posted on social media to support this movement.”

Source: Deadline

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