George Clooney and other stars who are among the top earners in Hollywood have made a groundbreaking proposal to end the actors strike, which has dragged on for nearly 100 days.
Clooney along with Ben Affleck, Emma Stone, Scarlett Johansson and Tyler Perry met with the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) union to suggest eliminating a $1 million cap on union membership dues so that the highest-earners in the business can contribute more, Deadline first reported.
“A lot of the top earners want to be part of the solution,” Clooney, a two-time Oscar winner, told Deadline. “We’ve offered to remove the cap on dues, which would bring over $50 million to the union annually. Well over $150 million over the next three years. We think it’s fair for us to pay more into the union.”
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The funds would go toward providing health benefits for members. The stars also proposed reformulating how actors earn streaming residuals.
The offer would prioritize paying the lowest-earners first, Clooney said, according to the Deadline report.
Nice offer, but it wouldn’t change anything
SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher responded to the unprecedented offer on Instagram, thanking Clooney and the other A-listers for the proposal.
She called the offer “generous” but warned that it “does not impact the contract that we’re striking over whatsoever.”
“We are a federally regulated labor union and the only contributions that can go into our pension and health plans must be from the employer,” Drescher said. “So what we are fighting for in terms of benefits has to remain in this contract.”
The union is still waiting for the “CEOs to return to the table so we can continue our talks.”
She called out studio heads for avoiding addressing what she called “flaws” in the current residual compensation model.
“Sometimes in life when you introduce an unprecedented business model like they did on all of my members with streaming, an unprecedented compensation structure must also go along with it,” Drescher said. “It may not be easy, it may not be what they want, but it is an elegant way to solve the problem so we can all go back to work in what would become the new normal.”
Union dues subject to federal and state laws
The SAG-AFTRA television and theatrical negotiating committee also responded to the proposal in a letter to members Thursday.
“We’re grateful that a few of our most successful members have engaged to offer ideas and support,” the letter read.
The concept of the stars raising their own dues “is worthy of consideration, but it is in no way related to and would have no bearing on this present contract or even as a subject of collective bargaining,” it continued. “It is, in fact, prohibited by Federal labor law. For example, our Pension and Health plans are funded exclusively from employer contributions. It also doesn’t speak to the scale of the overall package.”
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