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Fran Drescher says SAG-AFTRA is prepared to strike for at least 6 months: ‘We’re in it to win it’

The members of SAG-AFTRA, which include more than 160,000 people in the entertainment industry, have been on strike for nearly three weeks.
/ Source: TODAY

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said the union representing more than 160,000 actors and others in the entertainment industry is financially prepared to remain on strike for the next six months, as the strike starts its 19th full day.

"Well, I don't have a crystal ball," Drescher said on TODAY when asked how long she expects the strike to continue. "We have financially prepared ourselves for the next six months. And we're really in it to win it."

The actors represented by SAG-AFTRA have been on strike since July 13, following what Drescher called an "unprecedented" 12-day extension in July to try to come to an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents major motion picture studios.

Comcast, the corporation that owns TODAY’s parent company NBCUniversal, is one of the entertainment companies represented by the AMPTP.

"I don't know whether they're punishing us or what," Drescher said. "We gave them an unprecedented, 12-day extension to try and come to a meeting of the minds to avert a strike, but nothing really came out of that."

There has been no movement with the AMPTP since the strike was called, Drescher said.

"From the minute we said we were on strike now, after the extension ran out, we said we are happy to continue negotiating, let's keep talking," she said. "And they've said no."

When reached for comment from TODAY, the AMPTP said: "We remain committed to finding a path to mutually beneficial deals for both unions."

SAG-AFTRA members are demanding better pay and better working conditions, as well as contracts that include provisions on artificial intelligence, Drescher said.

Drescher said what the AMPTP is currently offering in wages is less than what members were making in 2020, and that the studios want the union to accept the rate through 2026.

"It's outrageous. The business model changed and they're unwilling to change the contract," she said, referring to how streaming has played a role in how actors are paid.

Drescher said 86% of the union’s members don’t reach the wage threshold to receive health benefits, which she said is just below $27,000 per year.

"These are hardworking people," she said. "They want the same things for their children that all of those CEOs that are making large fortunes want for their children."

Drescher also addressed the interim agreements the union has authorized, which allows independent films to continue production as long as they agree to be bound by the deal the union is seeking with the AMPTP.

"This means our journeyman performers and crew will be able to have opportunities to work to pay their bills," she said. "And as long as those people have more opportunities to work, then we can hold firm on our result with the AMPTP, who will be left out in the cold if they don't come back to the table."

She added the union will continue to support interim agreements so that some actors, performers and crew can continue to work through the strike.

"That's very important because they're honoring our proposals and that proves that they're not unrealistic," she said. "They're reasonable, and they're fair."