SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher had a sobering message for Hollywood’s major studios as she joined a WGA picket line outside Paramount Pictures on Monday afternoon.
“They feel like this strike is a strike for everybody in the industry,” Drescher said of SAG-AFTRA members and the WGA’s labor action.
Drescher, who was elected SAG-AFTRA president in September 2021, marched arm in arm with Writers Guild of America West president Meredith Stiehm in a show of solidarity, joining a coalition of a few hundred members from each guild who were picketing outside Paramount starting at 9 a.m. PT as week two of the WGA strike began.
“It’s important that we support our sister unions in the entertainment industry,” Drescher told Variety, emphasizing that she’s both a labor leader, in her role as SAG-AFTRA president, as well as a WGA member. “We have to be in solidarity with them. That’s the only way that the labor can effectively stand up for itself and be recognized for what our needs are,” Drescher said.
As evidenced by the strong turnout of SAG-AFTRA members on WGA picket lines since the strike began on May 2, there’s a real kinship between the guilds. Drescher described the mood of her membership body as “very supportive” of the strike effort. SAG-AFTRA will begin its own contract talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on June 7.
The WGA’s work stoppage is “forcing the AMPTP to realize that there’s needs that have to be recognized, and contributors to the entertainment industry that need to be honored,” Drescher said. “I’m hoping that between now and June 7th, we continue to very methodically and strategically plan our negotiations. God willing, we will not get to this point. Every union has different asks and different needs. And although we support each of them, every negotiation is different.”
Drescher didn’t get too specific about what she expects her union’s negotiations to entail. In the broad strokes, Drescher said that SAG-AFTRA’s main focus is “to restructure the contract to stay true to the current business model.”
(Pictured: SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher and WGA West president Meredith Stiehm outside Paramount Pictures)