Q&A: Union President Fran Drescher on Hollywood Studios Suspending Contract Talks

by Gabriel Martinez
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SAG-AFTRA Strike Negotiations

Fran Drescher, who has been guiding the actors’ guild through a prolonged strike, expressed confusion and disappointment following the sudden discontinuation of negotiations by Hollywood studios with the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) made it known this Wednesday that they were halting discussions, attributing their decision to an insurmountable gap between the two parties. They claimed that their latest proposal was equitable, akin to the offer that concluded the recent writers’ strike. In an interview on Thursday with The Big Big News, Drescher stated that although she couldn’t fathom why the talks broke down, the determination of her union remains steadfast.

The following interview has been edited for clarity and succinctness.

AP: Could you elucidate what transpired in the negotiations with the AMPTP?

DRESCHER: The AMPTP presented us with a package of proposals. We devoted approximately 36 hours to review and refine it before returning it to them. Shortly after presenting our response, they terminated the discussions. This development is not just puzzling but is entirely disappointing and unconstructive.

I am perplexed by their fundamental misunderstanding of the negotiation process. Abandoning the discussions achieves no constructive outcome. My members are more motivated than ever; they find this entire ordeal demeaning and dishonorable.

AP: Prior to the breakdown, how would you describe the atmosphere of the negotiations? Was there optimism following the studios’ agreement with the Writers Guild of America?

DRESCHER: Even during the writers’ guild negotiations, talks were severed. Now that an agreement has been reached, the mood appears congenial. However, back then, the discussions were highly contentious. They were reluctant even to make basic concessions.

I’ve never before encountered such a level of insolence and inflexibility. Their contempt for our request to adjust compensation models to account for the realities of streaming revenue is astounding. They seem to believe their authority is unassailable and that we should feel privileged for whatever they deign to offer us.

AP: Next week will mark the longest strike in your guild’s history. Can you reflect on the factors that have led to this?

DRESCHER: This protracted strike is a consequence of their unwillingness to engage in meaningful discussions. They have been largely absent, meeting us sporadically and for only short durations. Their overall stance has been one of obstinacy rather than negotiation. They appear disinterested in addressing the financial difficulties our members face, including issues related to housing and family support.

AP: What are the next steps?

DRESCHER: Upon announcing their decision to withdraw from talks, the AMPTP has effectively put us in a crucial juncture. As of now, our negotiating committee is convening serious deliberations, and our members are actively picketing. Our resolve remains unshakable. We have reached a crossroads, and deviating from our path is not an option.

For extensive reporting on the ongoing actors’ strike, visit Big Big News Hollywood Strikes Coverage.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about SAG-AFTRA Strike Negotiations

What led to the breakdown of negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and Hollywood studios?

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) decided to suspend contract negotiations with the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). They cited an insurmountable gap between the positions of the two parties as the reason for discontinuing the talks.

Who is leading SAG-AFTRA during these negotiations?

Fran Drescher, the President of SAG-AFTRA, has been at the forefront of these negotiations. She expressed confusion and disappointment at the sudden halt in discussions by the AMPTP.

What was the atmosphere of the discussions before they broke off?

Before the breakdown, the negotiations were highly contentious according to Fran Drescher. She mentioned that the studios were very reluctant to make basic concessions, even in light of the recent agreement with the Writers Guild of America.

How have SAG-AFTRA members reacted to the breakdown in talks?

The members of SAG-AFTRA are reportedly more motivated than ever. They feel demeaned and dishonored by the studios’ decision to abruptly end negotiations, and their resolve has only strengthened as a result.

How often had the two parties met before negotiations were suspended?

The meetings were sporadic and infrequent. The AMPTP had stopped talking to SAG-AFTRA back on July 12 and only resumed less than 10 days prior to the suspension of the negotiations. When they did meet, it was often for only half a day.

What is the significance of the current strike by SAG-AFTRA?

The ongoing strike will be the longest in the history of SAG-AFTRA, indicative of the significant challenges and obstacles that have plagued these negotiations.

What are the next steps for SAG-AFTRA following the breakdown in negotiations?

Fran Drescher indicated that SAG-AFTRA is at a crucial juncture. Their negotiating committee is actively deliberating, and the union’s members are on the picket lines. The resolve within SAG-AFTRA remains unshakable, and they are committed to staying the course.

How can I stay updated on the ongoing actors’ strike?

For extensive reporting on the ongoing actors’ strike, you can visit the Big Big News Hollywood Strikes Coverage at Big Big News Hollywood Strikes.

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