In an unprecedented show of solidarity, SAG-AFTRA’s two leading political factions have joined forces to form a unity slate to endorse the reelection of president Fran Drescher and secretary-treasurer Joely Fisher in an election will be held later this summer.
Two years ago, Drescher was elected president at the top of the ruling Unite for Strength ticket, while Fisher was elected on the opposition MembershipFirst slate.
The decision to join forces comes on the heels of the unanimous vote of the guild’s oft-fractious board to recommend a strike-authorization vote, which was subsequently approved by 98% of the membership. The union is currently entering what could be the final week of its negotiations for a new film and TV contract; the current contract expires Friday.
“This show of solidarity brings tears to my eyes,” Drescher said. “I have been running a nonpartisan administration, reaching across the aisle to represent and honor those member leaders who may not have supported me in 2021, but have now pledged to do so in 2023. We stand upon the precipice of a new dawn. And with this show of solidarity we have become all the more empowered.”
“We are witnessing a paradigm shift,” Fisher said. “Fran has opened the door to unification – this collaboration will finally bring that to fruition. This comes at a time when the membership truly needs the full weight of their union fighting for their creative and economic ideals, not against each other. This most important and historic contract negotiation takes center stage.”
The two Los Angeles-based factions say that they will also support a unified slate of candidates vying for open seats on the national and the Los Angeles local board, and as delegates to the sixth SAG-AFTRA National Convention.
“This unified group is committed to addressing the existential threats posed by unregulated use of AI and machine learning, residual formulas that don’t compensate performers fairly, unreasonable self-taping demands, and more,” they said in a joint statement. “SAG-AFTRA members have never been more focused and united. As such, both Unite for Strength and MembershipFirst choose to seize this rare opportunity, come together to maximize our strength, and prove what we already know – that SAG-AFTRA is the world’s most powerful entertainment union.”
A full list of candidates of the new unity slate will be announced by August 9.