In a Thursday press conference formally announcing an actors’ strike and officially putting Hollywood at a production standstill, SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher gave a rousing opening salvo of a speech that exclaimed that “the jig is up” for Hollywood studios’ continued abuses towards its labor workers.
“You people are crazy — why are you doing this?” she said while recounting the weeks of negotiations that have left many in the union feeling “insulted.”
“From the time negotiations began on June 7, SAG-AFTRA staff and the members of our negotiating committee have worked overtime devoting their evenings, weekends and holidays to achieving a deal that would ensure a sustainable future for the acting profession,” chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said before handing the mic to Drescher. “But despite our team’s efforts, the AMPTP has remained steadfast in its commitment to devaluing the work of our members.”
The strike will begin late Thursday at midnight.
Read Drescher’s fiery speech in full below. You can watch the full SAG-AFTRA press conference in the video above.
Thank you, Duncan, and thank you, everybody for coming to this press conference today. It’s really important that this negotiation be covered because the eyes of the world — and particularly the eyes of labor — are upon us.
What happens here is important because what’s happening to us is happening across all fields of labor. 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 serve as 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 victimized 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 labor unions, because at some point the jig is up. You cannot keep being dwindled and marginalized and disrespected and dishonored. The entire business model has been changed by streaming, digital, AI. 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. This is a very big deal and it weighs heavy on us. But at some point, you have to say no, we’re not going to take this anymore.
You people are crazy. What are you doing? Why are you doing this? Privately they all say we’re the center 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 authorization 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 labor. We are fortunate enough to be in a country right now that happens to be labor-friendly. And yet, we were facing opposition that was so labor 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.
We’re not going to keep doing incremental changes on a contract that no longer honors 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. We stand tall. You have to wake up and smell the coffee. We are labor and we stand tall and we demand respect and to be honored for our contribution.
You share the wealth because you cannot exist without us.