Artist RightsInternet TelevisionVoice Acting

98% Of Voice Actors Approve TV Animation Strike Authorization

Over 98% of voice actors represented by SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) – 98.27% to be exact – have voted yes in favor of a tv animation strike authorization. The results were made public by the union on July 18.

Actors are threatening to call a strike over sub-par terms for performers working on animated series for subscription-based streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon. The central issue for actors, as we’ve previously reported, is the refusal by producers to offer scale minimums or residuals for animated series made for streaming platforms.

As the union points out, “It is important to note this referendum result does not mean members are on strike.” However, it gives the union’s national board the authority to declare a strike if “absolutely necessary.” More than 75% of the voting members had to approve of the strike for the authorization to be valid.

Voice actors are currently working under expired contracts. The contracts expired on June 30, 2017, and negotiations have stalled between the union and entertainment companies, largely because they’ve been unable to come to terms on animated programs made for subscription-based streaming platforms.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the producers, released the following statement in which it said it hoped a strike could be avoided:

“The AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA have been engaged in meaningful discussions over a new Television Animation Agreement and a new Basic Cable Animation Agreement for several months. Those discussions have yielded progress, but there are still a few open items to resolve.  Given the animation Producers’ longstanding positive relationship with the leadership of SAG-AFTRA, as well as their commitment to exploring a variety of ways to reach a deal, we hope that talk of a strike can be put aside in favor of ascertaining the facts about the business that are relevant to the issues that separate us and finding ways to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement.”

Addressing the issue of streaming animation has taken on greater urgency as there are now nearly as many animated series being made now for streaming as there are cable. Since the SAG-AFTRA contract expired last year, 22 new animated series have gone into production for subscription-based streaming services, as compared to 23 new series that have gone into production for basic cable.

With Disney set to soon launch its own streaming service and Warner Bros. already pushing original content onto its Boomerang service, the number of series produced for streaming will soon surpass basic cable production. In fact, WB Animation recently renegotiated the contracts for several shows it was initially producing for basic cable, and will now send them to its streaming Boomerang platform.

Latest News from Cartoon Brew