A date has been set for the Screen Actors Guild to send in their strike authorization votes, January 2. The results will be announced Jan. 23. If 75% of the Guild votes in favor of authorizing a strike, it doesn’t make it a guaranteed thing, it just means that the leadership could call a strike at that time if they deem it necessary. If they do not get the required votes, the leaders have indicated they will sign the deal.
For their part, the guild leaders are stating they would rather not strike but just want the authorization, and the threat of a strike, for negotiating purposes. There is talk that if the strike does go through, much of the industry would switch over to using AFTRA actors as they can’t afford a shutdown at this time. AFTRA is a sister union to SAG and they cover mostly television and radio talent. The New York branch of SAG is against a strike vote and wishes to sign an agreement with AMPTP as soon as possible.
Winter Is Coming: So how does all of this affect Game of Thrones? It depends. A new deal would mean everything would continue as planned on pre-production. A strike, however, could throw a wrench into those plans. It is hard to know.
Would HBO just use AFTRA actors? Curb Your Enthusiasm is an example of an HBO show staffed through AFTRA, so they are not opposed to doing so. Would they just use Equity (the British version of SAG) actors? The BBC’s involvement and the fact that they are likely shooting in the UK might necessitate this either way. Would Benioff and Weiss, members of the WGA, return the favor that SAG members extended to them during their strike by refusing to work? Crossing the picket lines is generally frowned upon, so they may be forced to cease production until a deal is signed.
Either way, we have to cross our fingers and hope that the strike authorization vote fails and that a deal is signed. It is possible that even if SAG does strike it may not affect Thrones at all, but I’d rather not have to take that chance.