SAG-AFTRA head Fran Drescher: What she said about actors strike

Drescher says move is about all labour, not just entertainment industry as 160,000 actors join writers on strike.

The head of the SAG-AFTRA union that represents 160,000 film and television actors has said that the decision to strike was a difficult one, but had to be taken as a step against corporate greed.

The actors are joining writers, who went on strike in May also demanding better wages that take into account new technology in the entertainment industry including streaming services and artificial intelligence.

Here is the transcript of Fran Drescher’s speech as she announced the strike action:


“It’s really important that this negotiation be covered because the eyes of the world and particularly the eyes of labour are upon us.

What happens here is important, because what’s happening to us is happening across all fields of labour. By means of when employers make Wall Street and greed their priority, and they forget about the essential contributors that make the machine run.

We have a problem. And we are experiencing that right at this moment. This is a very seminal hour for us. I went in, in earnest, thinking that we would be able to avert a strike.

The gravity of this move is not lost on me or our negotiating committee, or our board members who have voted unanimously to proceed with a strike.

It’s a very serious thing that impacts thousands, if not millions of people, all across this country and around the world, not only members of this union but people who work in other industries that service the people that work in this industry.

And so, it came with great sadness that we came to this crossroads, but we had no choice.

We are the victims here. We are being victimised by a very greedy entity.

I am shocked by the way the people that we have been in business with are treating us. I cannot believe it, quite frankly, how far apart we are on so many things. How they plead poverty, that they’re losing money left and right when giving hundreds of millions of dollars to their CEOs. It is disgusting. Shame on them. They stand on the wrong side of history.

At this very moment, we stand in solidarity, in unprecedented unity. Our union and our sister unions and the unions around the world are standing by us, as well as other labour unions. Because, at some point, the jig is up.

You cannot keep being dwindled and marginalised and disrespected and dishonoured. The entire business model has been changed by streaming, digital, AI [artificial intelligence].

This is a moment of history. That is a moment of truth. If we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be in trouble. We are all going to be in jeopardy of being replaced by machines and big business who cares more about Wall Street than you and your family.

Most of Americans don’t have more than $500 in an emergency.

SAG-AFTRA actors strike against the Hollywood studios as they join the Writers Guild of America
SAG-AFTRA actors strike against the Hollywood studios as they join the Writers Guild of America (WGA) on the picket like outside of Netflix offices in Los Angeles, California, US [Mike Blake/Reuters]

This is a very big deal. And it weighed heavy on us but at some point, you have to say no. We’re not going to take this any more. You people are crazy. What are you doing? Why are you doing this?

Privately they all say we’re the centre of the wheel, everybody else tinkers around our artistry. But actions speak louder than words. And there was nothing there. It was insulting. So we came together in strength and solidarity and unity with the largest strike authorisation vote in our union’s history. And we made the hard decision that we tell you as we stand before you today.

This is major. It’s really serious and it’s going to impact every single person that is in labour. We are fortunate enough to be in a country right now that happens to be labour friendly. And yet we were facing opposition that was so labour unfriendly so tone deaf to what we are saying.

You cannot change the business model as much as it has changed and not expect the contract to change, too.

We’re not going to keep doing incremental changes on a contract that no longer honours what is happening right now with this business model that was foisted upon us.

What are we doing moving around furniture on the Titanic? It’s crazy. So the jig is up, AMPTP [Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers], we stand tall. You have to wake up and smell the coffee. We are labour and we stand tall and we demand respect and to be honoured for our contribution. You share the wealth because you cannot exist without us.

Thank you

Source: Al Jazeera