SAG-AFTRA leaders say going on strike was the only option

On day, one of the SAG-AFTRA union strike, members picked up signs and got in line outside the HBO and Amazon offices in Hudson Yards.

The strike officially started early Friday morning, after failed contract negotiations between the union and TV and movie studios. 

Picket lines stretched across the city and to the West Coast. 

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 14: Members of the Hollywood actors SAG-AFTRA union walk a picket line with screenwriters outside of FOX Studios on the first day of the actors' strike on July 14, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. Members of SAG-AFTRA,

At the heart of the issue, how to fairly pay actors for their work on streaming platforms, like Netflix Hulu and Disney.

It’s a seismic change from how the industry used to work in the days of cable and syndicated shows.

SAG members joining the Writer’s Guild of America, who have been striking since May. 

Another essential issue of the strike is the looming development of artificial intelligence in TV and film.

New York’s local chapter president,  Ezra Knight told Fox5,

"We deserve dignity respect, a fair contract that we will not be eliminated by AI."

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What led to the strikes?

More than a month of talks on a new three-year contract between the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the studios, streaming services and production companies that employ them led to little progress, and the tone became openly hostile in the days before union leaders voted to begin a strike on Friday. A last minute intervention from a federal mediator didn’t bridge the gap.

Union leaders say the streaming model that has taken over the industry in recent years has cheated actors of their share of income and funneled money to executives, and proposals of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios, streamers and production companies in negotiations, did not even begin to meet their needs.

A 12-day extension of the contract and the talks shortly before an initial deadline in late June brought some hope a deal would be reached, but the hostility only grew. "The Nanny" star Fran Drescher, who heads the union said it made them "feel like we’d been duped, like maybe it was just to let studios promote their summer movies for another 12 days."

Before the talks began, the 65,000 actors who cast ballots voted overwhelmingly for union leaders to send them into a strike, as the Writers Guild of America did when their deal expired more than two months ago.

Screen Actors Guild members and supporters on a picket line in Times Square in New York, US, on Friday, July 14, 2023. For the first time in six decades, Hollywood writers and actors are on strike at the same time - a cataclysm for hundreds of thousa

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The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers meanwhile, said the strike will cause financial hardships.

In response, Linda Powell, the Vice President of the New York, local chapter and negotiating committee member, said,

"We didn’t do this, the AMPTP did this. So if want to come back to the table and address our big issues. We are more than ready and willing and able to talk to them."

The strike means all production of movies and TV shows has come to a halt, including Marvel’s new Deadpool 3, which stopped production earlier today .

Associated Press contributed to this report.