US President Joe Biden gestures as he delivers a speech on NATO at the Vilnius University in Vilnius, Lithuania, after the end of the NATO Summit. 230712
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images
Count President Joe Biden among the supporters of the actors strike in Hollywood.
“The President believes all workers — including actors — deserve fair pay and benefits,” White House spokesperson said Robyn Patterson in a statement Friday. “The President supports workers’ right to strike and hopes the parties can reach a mutually beneficial agreement.”
Biden, a proponent of organized labor, previously backed striking members of the Writers Guild of America in May, when Hollywood’s scribes started picketing. Biden’s support for the actors’ work stoppage comes as UPS workers prepare for a potential strike, and the nation’s auto workers enter potentially contentious negotiations with Ford, General Motors and Stellantis.
The White House released the statement a day after the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists called a strike following the collapse of negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. With writers and actors on the picket lines, Hollywood is essentially shut down. This is the first tandem strike in the industry since 1960. Actors started picketing Friday morning in California.
Hollywood performers are looking to improve wages, working conditions, and health and pension benefits, as well as create guardrails for the use of artificial intelligence in future television and film productions. Additionally, the union is seeking more transparency from streaming services about viewership so that residual payments can be made equitable to that seen on linear TV.
Similarly, writers in the industry are seeking higher compensation and residuals, particularly when it comes to streaming shows. They’re also seeking new rules that will require studios to staff television shows with a certain number of writers for a specific period.
The guild also is seeking compensation throughout the process of pre-production, production and post-production. Writers are often expected to provide revisions or craft new material without being paid. Both unions share concerns over the use of artificial intelligence when it comes to script writing.
Studios and their executives have pushed back on the unions’ demands. Disney CEO Bob Iger told CNBC this week that he believes the writers and actors’ expectations are “just not realistic.”
Democratic California lawmakers have also supported the two strikes, with U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla as well as U.S. Reps. Barbara Lee and Adam Schiff all sharing statements following the SAG-AFTRA strike announcement in favor of fair labor compensation.