Hollywood actors' union asks members to authorize possible strike

FILE PHOTO: The Hollywood Sign is pictured atop Mount Lee as pictured from Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood Hills

By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The board of Hollywood's actors union asked members on Thursday to give negotiators the power to call a strike, a move that would add new pressure to major studios already facing a writers' strike.

The SAG-AFTRA actors union set a June 5 deadline for its 160,000 members to cast ballots in a strike authorization vote. If approved, the measure would allow union leaders to call a work stoppage if they cannot reach a new contract agreement with major Hollywood studios.

The writers' strike has disrupted production of late-night shows and some TV series, but some filming is continuing. A strike by actors would lead to a broader shutdown across the industry.

Roughly 11,500 members of the Writers Guild of America went on strike on May 2 after the union failed to reach a deal with Walt Disney Co, Netflix Inc and other media companies for higher pay and safeguards around the use of artificial intelligence in the streaming TV era.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) said it offered "generous" increases in compensation.

For Hollywood actors, pay and AI also are on the list of concerns.

"Earning a living as a professional performer has become increasingly difficult, with both inflation and the streaming ecosystem undercutting compensation," SAG-AFTRA said in a statement on its website.

Negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the studios are scheduled to start on June 7. The actors' current labor contract expires June 30.

"The prospect of a strike is not a first option, but a last resort," SAG-AFTRA President and "The Nanny" actor Fran Drescher said. "As my dad always says, 'Better to have and not need than to need and not have!'"

A representative for the AMPTP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)