In an election cycle that took place during a historic strike, Fran Drescher has been re-elected SAG-AFTRA President.
Meanwhile, Joely Fisher was re-elected secretary-treasurer of the union. Drescher received 23,080 votes, more than competitor Maya Gilbert-Dunbar’s 5,276 votes. Fisher received 19,777 votes, while challenger Pete Antico received 8,361 votes. Voter turnout in the elections was 22.84 percent.
“I am honored to serve my union as president for another term,” Drescher said in a statement. “A lot has been achieved in the last two years, but I feel great optimism that the next two will be our best yet! As we abandon tribalism and become more empathetic to each other, while realizing that every experience offers the opportunity to better ourselves on our journey of self-refinement, we will also enter a golden age for SAG-AFTRA.
In her own statement, Fisher said, “When we’re fighting the entire show business establishment, the last thing we need is to be fighting each other. I’m glad you all agree.” She added: “I am overwhelmed by your unprecedented support and promise that President Drescher and I will move forward with the same commitment to unity shown in this election process and – finally – a decent contract.”
Drescher, the incumbent union leader and chairman of the SAG-AFTRA bargaining committee, was a fiery, vocal presence in the early days of the SAG-AFTRA strike, which began on July 14 and has lasted 56 days since. Drescher emphasized that the entertainment industry was at a turning point, highlighting the difference between astronomical pay packages for CEOs and the wages of Hollywood performers. Drescher gave a rousing speech during the strike announcement — calling studio representative the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers “a very greedy entity” and saying “shame on them” — and criticized Disney CEO Bob Iger during a separate interview, with the question whether he was an ‘ignorant’. However, the union leader became less vocal in recent weeks as the union elections approached and she said she was visiting her parents in South Florida.
Unexpectedly, but in an effort to show solidarity during the union’s ongoing work stoppage, this election cycle two political factions within SAG-AFTRA that are typically at each other’s throats — Unite for Strength and Membership First — united behind Drescher.
In addition to The babysitter star, the two groups joined forces to support Fisher and a “Unity Slate” of candidates for the union and Los Angeles Local national boards, such as Sean Astin, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Frances Fisher. The group said it wanted to address many of the issues that SAG-AFTRA has prioritized during ongoing contract negotiations, such as regulations on AI and machine learning, improving residual formulas and setting more ground rules for self-recorded auditions.
They were up against a series of independents, led by presidential candidate Maya Gilbert-Dunbar and secretary-treasurer hopeful Peter Antico.
Antico and Dunbar have called on mediators to intervene in SAG-AFTRA’s ongoing TV/theatrical contract negotiations and have said they also want to end the strike by appealing to California Governor Gavin Newsom. The independent party, which includes former SAG-AFTRA presidential candidate Matthew Modine, is also seeking to make changes to the union’s pension and health care plans, SVOD residuals formulas and the treatment of background actors, stunt performers, singers and dancers.
Drescher and Fisher will have their work cut out for them when they begin their terms Friday: The AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA have yet to return to the negotiating table on the union’s TV/theater contract since the two sides parted ways in mid-July. . In the meantime, SAG-AFTRA is awarding some productions that agree to their demands at the bargaining table, allowing them to continue moving forward despite the work stoppage, a move that has been controversial in some corners of the union. Moreover, a potential video games strike looms on the horizon: the union is holding a strike vote on its Interactive Media Agreement, which covers work at companies like Activision Blizzard and Epic Games, which expires on September 25.