Fran Drescher has been elected to a second term as president of SAG-AFTRA, as the union’s first studio strike in 43 years nears the two-month mark.
Drescher was elected with 81.4% of the vote, defeating Maya Gilbert-Dunbar, who took 18.6%.
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Joely Fisher took 70.3% in her race for a second term as secretary-treasurer. Her opponent, Peter Antico, got 29.7%.
Drescher has become the public face of the strike, calling out corporate greed and demanding an overhaul of the actors’ basic contract. In her campaign, she said she intends to lead the union toward a “seminal” agreement.
“These are dynamic times and as one member body, we will weather the storms, stand on our principles and make sure our major contributions to this collaborative art form shall never again be diminished but rather be exalted,” Drescher said in a statement Friday night.
Drescher was first elected in 2021, and has worked to unify the warring factions within the union. The union has been divided for more than a decade between the Unite for Strength party, which Drescher represents, and the more militant Membership First faction.
The two groups formed a “unity slate” in this year’s election. Fisher is a leader of Membership First.
“It is a story of the solidarity of SAG-AFTRA members,” said Ben Whitehair, the union’s executive vice president. “Imagine Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell saying we actually agree enough on something that we’re going to run together and support each other’s campaigns. That’s [unimaginable], right? And that is what happened.”
In her statement, Drescher said that she expects partisanship will fade away, “as we develop a new culture of respect, patience and understanding.”
“As we let go of tribalism and gain more empathy for one another, as we realize that with each experience comes opportunity to better ourselves on our journey of self refinement, we will also enter a Golden Age for SAG-AFTRA,” she said.
Internally, there had been some discussion about putting off the election, as members did not want to fight amongst themselves while also doing battle with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. But the election was required under the law, so it went forward.
A group of “independent” candidates challenged the “unity” ticket. Gilbert-Dunbar and Antico were critical of the way the union has handled negotiations, and called for an outside mediator to help resolve the strike.
Gilbert-Dunbar and Antico, along with other independent candidates, have also been sharply critical of the union for not fighting to make sure that unvaccinated actors could still work. Drescher has also spoken against the vaccine mandate — which has now been lifted — though the majority of the union’s board supported it.
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