The SAG-AFTRA president delivered an impassioned speech at a press conference on Thursday.
The actress and union president delivered an impassioned speech at a press conference Thursday morning -- shortly after news broke that the union voted to authorize a strike -- and called out the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) for making "Wall Street and greed a priority."
The SAG-AFTRA national board met Thursday to formally approve a strike after negotiations fell apart between the actors' union and major Hollywood studios and streamers
The actors will now join the writers on the picket line, marking the first time since 1960 two major guilds will be striking at the same time. The writers' strike began May 2 and is in its 10th week.
Below is the complete transcript of Drescher's powerful address during Thursday's press conference.
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 here is happening across all fields of labor. By means of when employers make Wall Street and greed a priority and they forget abut 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 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, who have voted unanimously to proceed with a strike. 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 that service the people that work in this industry.
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 left and right while giving hundreds of millions of dollars to their CEOs.
It is disgusting! Shame on them! They stand on the wrong side of history in this very moment. We stand in solidarity, in unprecedented unity. Our union and our sister unions, and 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. It 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 care more about Wall Street than you and your family.
Most of Americans don't have more than $500 in an emergency. This is a very big deal, and it weighed heavy on us. But some point, you have to say 'No! We're not going to take this anymore. You people are crazy! 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 right now to be in a country that happens to be labor-friendly. And yet, we are facing opposition that is so labor-unfriendly, so tone-deaf to what we're 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 the business model that was foisted around 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!
Among the actors' sticking points for a new agreement are improved compensation and benefits, residuals that reflect the value of their contributions amid the expansion of streaming services, regulated use of artificial intelligence and the issue of self-taped auditions.
Shortly after the current contract expired, Drescher and Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, national executive director/chief negotiator, issued a statement to SAG-AFTRA members, saying the AMPTP's response to their proposals for a fair agreement "have not been adequate." They also announced that the negotiating committee had voted unanimously to recommend a strike, passing their recommendation along to the national board Thursday morning.
The actors' union had previously voted to move forward with a strike should a deal not be reached by deadline, voting 98 percent to authorize one if it came down to that.
Negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP began in earnest June 7 with the original contract expiring Friday, June 30 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time. An extension was granted until July 12 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time.
The actors' strike effectively shuts down Hollywood, as nearly all productions -- save for non-union or unscripted projects -- will now be shuttered until a resolution is reached.