Fran Drescher On Fighting To Protect Jobs As Technology Changes, Misogyny During SAG-AFTRA Strike

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher called out the misogyny that dogged her in strike negotiations and coverage, saying it was “disgusting.” She’s opined on that before but remarks today met a particularly receptive audience at the annual gala of New York Women In Film & Television where she was honored.

Drescher wasn’t able to attend in person as her father recently passed away. Her parents, who “instilled in me the importance of never crossing the picket line,” were both present in her speech, which was read by SAG-AFTRA executive VP Linda Powell at the NYWIFT Muse Awards.

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“It was a privilege, and certainly very challenging at times, to be a woman who was the focal point of the global labor movement,” Drescher’s statement said. “Of course, I couldn’t escape the misogyny … But I refused, I will always refuse, to conform to masculine expectations.”

Drescher, now in her second term, led actors in an historic 118-day strike last year.

“We did so because we had no other choice … wages aren’t keeping up with the cost of living. And, without guardrails, we are all at the risk of having a dehumanized workforce,” the statement said. “As AI technology becomes increasingly powerful, workers everywhere, and certainly within our industry, have reached a breaking point.”

The union’s $1 billion deal with studios included the first AI protections for actors. AI is also a big sticking point in SAG-AFTRA’s ongoing contract talks with the video game industry.

After more than a year of negotiating a new Interactive Media Agreement, SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland indicated earlier this month that the guild might soon be walking away from the table. It’s been well over a year since the guild’s video game contract was extended beyond its original expiration date. SAG-AFTRA’s last strike against the gaming companies, in 2016-17, lasted 183 days.

Recalling last year’s labor action, Drescher said: “Even during the most challenging weeks of that strike, I remained inspired by those thousands who came to the picket lines and raised their voices, refusing to allow changing technologies and business models to displace their ability to have a career in the [arts]. I was emboldened by thoughts of future generations whose dreams of achieving sustainable livelihoods needed to be protected. As I told our 160,000 SAG- AFTRA members, the times have changed. We’re in a different era now. And sometimes the best way to create a better world is to refuse to accept anything less. know your value. don’t go on sale.”

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