Biden Hails SAG-AFTRA Deal With Studios, Says It Will “Ensure a Better Future” for Members

The tentative agreement between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP has the support of a major power player: President Joe Biden.

Biden weighed in on the agreement in a statement Thursday, hailing the deal as one that “allows our entertainment industry to continue telling the stories of America.”

“Collective bargaining works,” Biden said in the statement. “I applaud SAG-AFTRA and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for working together in good faith towards an agreement that allows our entertainment industry to continue telling the stories of America. When both sides come to the table to negotiate in earnest they can make businesses stronger and allow workers to secure pay and benefits that help them raise families and retire with dignity. Over the last three years, workers have won historic victories that ensure record pay, record benefits, and an economy that grows from the middle out and bottom up. SAG-AFTRA members will have the final say on this contract, but the sacrifices they’ve made will ensure a better future for them, their families, and all workers who deserve a fair share of the value they helped create.”

Biden has made support for labor and unions a focus of his administration, and he dropped by a UAW picket line when the auto workers union was striking earlier this year. He has also put a renewed focus on artifical intelligence, releasing an executive order that tackles the technology last month.

AI was a major sticking point in the dispute between the studios and SAG.

The Biden administration was also active in trying to resolve bridge the divide between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP before the strike began. Javier Ramirez and Jimmy Valentine, mediators from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, had been involved in meetings with both parties and were helping to try and bridge divides between them. Ramirez is Biden’s choice to lead the FMCS.

While he has publicly supported the Hollywood unions (including a strong statement in May after the WGA strike began but before SAG joined them), he also has a personal connection to the studios. In fact, two of the executives who made appearances on the studio side during WGA and SAG negotitions, Disney’s Dana Walden and Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, were bundlers to his 2020 campaign. Biden’s former domestic policy chief Susan Rice also recently joined Netflix’s board of directors.

Biden was not the only politician to weigh in on the deal.

California Governor Gavin Newsom — whose state heavily relies on the entertainment industry to help power its economy — also released a statement:

“For over 100 days, actors have been fighting for better wages and the health and pension benefits they deserve,” Newsom said. “This tentative agreement will benefit our economy statewide and kickstart a new wave of exciting projects. I am thankful that we can now get this iconic industry back to work, not only for our writers and actors, but also the more than two million workers who power our world-class entertainment sector.”

Likewise, New York Governor Kathy Hochul also released a statement:

“I am pleased to see that SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP have reached a tentative agreement to end the actors’ strike,” Hochul said. “New York’s film and television industry is critical to our state’s economy, creating 65,000 jobs in the past year and $35 billion in economic activity over the past decade. Now that the WGA-AMPTP deal has been ratified and a tentative agreement has been reached between SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP, it’s my hope that productions can resume and this critical economic activity can continue. This industry is a powerful economic engine and a key source of good-paying union jobs, and I hope both parties can move quickly toward a final agreement that gets New York’s film and television industry back on track.”

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass also weighed in:

“I am grateful that a fair agreement has been reached between SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP after a more than 100 day strike that impacted millions in Los Angeles and throughout the country,” Bass said. “Those on the line have been the hardest hit during this period and there have been ripple effects throughout our entire city. Today’s tentative agreement is going to impact nearly every part of our economy. Now, we must lean in on local production to ensure that our entertainment industry rebounds stronger than ever and our economy is able to get back on its feet.”

As did New York City mayor Eric Adams:

“As New York City sets an all-time high jobs record and enters a new chapter of our recovery, the film and TV industry remains critical to a strong, inclusive economic future for our city,” Adams said. “We are thrilled to hear that SAG-AFTRA has reached a tentative agreement that would allow thousands of small businesses and 185,000 New Yorkers to get back to work with good jobs, fair wages, and strong protections that will allow the industry to continue to grow and thrive. Our administration is investing in this critical industry with major projects like the cutting-edge Sunset Pier 94 Studios in Manhattan that, alone, is set to create more than 1,700 jobs for New Yorkers, and we’ve strengthened the state film tax credit to keep productions here. Once this tentative agreement is ratified, film and TV will continue to be at the center of not only the city’s economy but also its identity once again.”

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