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‘Union has never been more powerful’

It’s official: Hollywood is back in business.

Members of the actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA, completed voting on Tuesday to ratify its multi-year deal with the major studios.

The guild — which ended its 118 day strike last month, the longest in its history — overwhelmingly approved the agreement by a vote of 78.33% to 21.67%, with a voter turnout of 38.15%.

“SAG-AFTRA members have remained incredibly engaged throughout this process, and I know they’ll continue their advocacy throughout our next negotiation cycle,” SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher said in the release. “This is a golden age for SAG-AFTRA, and our union has never been more powerful.”

The contract, valued at over $1 billion, includes “above-pattern” minimum compensation increases, with a 7% general wage hike that “breaks the industry pattern,” according to the union’s national executive director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. Background actors will receive immediate pay increases of 11%.

Those minimum wages will increase by another 4% in 2024 and then by another 3.5% in 2025.

There will also be “unprecedented” provisions when it comes to protections surrounding the use of artificial intelligence. According to the guild, members will receive “informed consent and fair compensation” for the creation and use of “digital replicas of members.”

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher, center with National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland at podium are joined by the TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee members speak during a news conference at the SAG-AFTRA offices in Los Angeles on Friday, Nov. 10, 2023. The actors' union officially ended its 118-day strike in November. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

Additionally, for the first time, there will be a roughly $40 million-per-year streaming residual bonus for actors on shows that reach a certain level of success. Pension and health caps were also “substantially raised,” the union said.

Other highlights include new terms for hair and makeup that protect diverse communities, increases to benefit plans for episodic work, and requirements to engage intimacy coordinators for nudity and simulated sex, SAG-AFTRA said.

SAG-AFTRA, the union that represents approximately 160,000 actors, announcers, recording artists, and other media professionals around the world, began a strike on July 14 after failing to reach a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which bargains on behalf of the major studios including Warner Bros. (WBD), Disney (DIS), Netflix (NFLX), Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), NBCUniversal (CMCSA), Paramount (PARA), and Sony (SONY). The union suspended the strike on Nov. 9 when a deal was reached.

Similarly to the writers, who officially ended their own strike in October, SAG-AFTRA had been fighting for more protections surrounding the role of AI in media and entertainment in addition to better pay and higher streaming residuals as more movies and TV shows go directly to streaming.

Although Hollywood is expected to get back up and running quickly, the pain of the past six months has already been felt with the “double whammy” work stoppage costing the Los Angeles economy an estimated $6.5 billion. That includes the loss of roughly 45,000 entertainment industry jobs, in addition to the production delays of several blockbuster titles.

Alexandra Canal is a Senior Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @allie_canal, LinkedIn, and email her at alexandra.canal@yahoofinance.com.

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