SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher gave an emotional speech at Thursday’s press conference announcing the union’s plans to strike.
During her impassioned oratory, Drescher delivered many pointed messages to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, including, “We are labor and we stand tall and we demand respect and to be honored for our contribution” and “We are being victimized by a very greedy entity.”
Watch Drescher’s speech and read a full transcript of it below.
“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. 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.
“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 and 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 case of an emergency. 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 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 too. 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. Thank you.”