What the SAG-AFTRA Strike Means for Intimacy Coordinators

Sep 06, 2023

Welcome! We're excited to share this exclusive Q+A with Our Creative Director, Alicia Rodis. At IDC, we fully support the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes and encourage you to learn more about their efforts.


Q: So Alicia, In brief, can you provide a summary of the current state of the strike and why SAG-AFTRA has chosen to strike?

There are many who can encapsulate this moment in time better than me, but I’ll do my best. 

At the time I am writing this, we are 7 weeks into the SAG-AFTRA strike, which began on July 14th, and just over 17 weeks into the WGA strike which began on May 2nd of this year. The big picture for both of these strikes is that the way business has been conducted for the last 100 or so years has changed drastically in the past 20 years with mergers into tech companies and then again with streaming. Residuals with streaming is considerably lower than what was made by contracts of the past, and the companies represented by the AMPTP are not even willing to share how many people watch a certain series, let alone allow how much residuals actors could make from them a possibility. AI is another key component as to why we are striking, as the guardrails the AMPTP are offering around AI contain many cracks and even gaping holes that would allow some SAG-AFTRA members to work one day, be scanned, and have their image used in perpetuity. 

Currently, SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP have walked away from the table. SAG-AFTRA has said many times they are ready to come back to the table, but the AMPTP have not yet. There has been some movement in regards to the WGA. The AMPTP as recently as last week delivered a new proposal. The WGA quickly countered, and they have not heard from the AMPTP since.  

Some resources: 

Q: What impact does that strike have on intimacy coordinators/what does it mean for intimacy coordinators right now?

In a nutshell, most of the industry is shut down, with a few exceptions. International productions that are not using SAG-AFTRA or WGA talent are still moving forward. There are some productions which are being filmed and funded by independent studios (outside of the AMPTP) which have been granted interim agreements (the term “waiver” has been used, but is not entirely accurate.) The interim agreement means these independent productions are agreeing to everything asked by the SAG-AFTRA that the AMPTP studios have not. (Which should tell us something about the scope of what the actors are asking for.) But these productions are few and far between compared to what is usually being filmed at this time. So much like our fellow workers in all areas of film and television all over the country, most of us are in a holding pattern.


Q: What is the current language/status/agreement in SAG contracts for intimacy coordinators?

Actually, in the TV/Theatrical agreement that has expired, there was none. But in the 2023 agreement that both parties have tentatively agreed that “producers will use good faith efforts to engage intimacy coordinators for scenes involving nudity or simulated sex, and, upon request, for other scenes.” Also of note, both parties agreed to extend the 48-hour rule for nudity and simulated sex for background performers as well as principles.

So it’s important to note that in any of the interim agreements, that language is present.



Q: Can you speak on why intimacy coordinators standing with SAG-AFTRA is so important?

A multitude of reasons. First off, as advocates, the wanting of a fair contract is in line with the ethics intimacy coordinators are bound by (or at least I hope they are.) Everyone has a right to a safe and consensual workspace, and some of the issues SAG-AFTRA are striking against go into the very nature of consent in regards to an actor’s image being used to train AI. I also am in agreement with a lot of folks that describe the current issues as an existential threat to the industry itself. With the reduction of pay and residuals in streaming service programming, we are seeing a large number of working class actors who are not able to make their health insurance minimum, nor make a living. A common theme in labor disputes have been the want of these large companies to keep everyone as gig workers, not employees, and this strike is no different. If indeed we want artists (both actors and writers) to continue to be professional, not hobbyists, then the increase of pay, residuals, and accessibility to healthcare and pension is imperative. If guardrails of AI created content is not sufficiently filled, the pivot to AI created content takes away jobs of actors, and if there are no actors, there are probably not any intimacy coordinators either. Additionally, SAG-AFTRA have been standing behind intimacy coordinators since our inception. It only makes sense to support them at this time. 


Q: How can people show their support?

Awesome question. One thing you can do is donate! The SAG-AFTRA Foundation strike fund is assisting actors in need. The Entertainment Community Fund is also raising money to help those during the strike. 

Another thing you can do is join a picket line! You don’t have to be a SAG-AFTRA member, or a member of any union to join the line and show your support. Check sagaftra.org or https://www.sagaftrastrike.org/ for picket info and other information directly from the guild. The WGA has a great Strike Action Toolkit that I’m a fan of. 

You can also use your social media to show your support. And you can talk about it. Whether you work in entertainment or not, everyday folks supporting this strike are important. Both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA are fighting for fair compensation, stronger workers' rights, and greater employment protections. And a win for them I truly believe is a win for everyone.


Q: Anything else you’d like to share that I may not have asked specifically?

Am I gonna go here? (sigh) Sure.

A lot of folks have described this as a watershed moment in our industry, and not only that, but for workers rights in general. In the last few decades the wealth of CEO pay has skyrocketed 1,460% since 1978 and CEOs were paid 399 times as much as a typical worker in 2021.* This escalation of CEO compensation only helps fuel the growth of top 1% and top 0.1% incomes, leaving fewer of the gains of economic growth for ordinary workers and widening the gap between very high earners and the bottom 90% and I do believe the strike is about that too. (For IDC’s approach to CEO to employee wage ratio and ethical capitalism read our blog here.)

The WGA has published to the AMPTP that they are asking for a fraction of a percent of their revenues to make the agreements.**

What the workers of the entertainment industry are asking for is not absurd or outlandish (though some media may present it that way.) What is being fought for is the survival of the film and television artist as a profession. Higher standards for union workers means higher standards for us all. 



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