SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher stands tall in her conviction defending her guild and the tentative agreement they worked so hard to fight for, but she’s not too thrilled about fellow actors who are just about ready to dismantle all of that progress.
In the Zoom meeting held on this lovely Monday morning, Drescher had some words “naysayers” and “contrarians” who have denounced SAG-AFTRA’s new contract.
The SAG-AFTRA PRESIDENT HAS SPOKEN
According to Drescher, “Sadly there have been some naysayers who have exploited this momentum of ours”. She also said that some people have “tried to tear down what was being done in the negotiating committee”, throughout the negotiation.
After 118 agonizing days, the actors’ union reached a tentative agreement last week Wednesday. The union’s national board approved the deal on an 86% vote on Friday before sending it to the members for ratification.
The ratification process began Monday with the Zoom meeting to elaborate on the terms of the deal and address any concerns.
From the moment the meeting commenced, Drescher strongly advised the membership to listen carefully to the details unless they’ve unfortunately been “poisoned by contrarians.”
The Threat Of AI Still Looms
If you’re familiar with Justine Bateman’s tweets over the weekend criticizing SAG-AFTRA’s tentative agreement, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to assume that Drescher was alluding to her.
The union sought all-around protections against the use of AI to create “digital replicas” without actors’ consent and compensation. The final deal includes many provisions the union fought for, but not all, unfortunately.
Right now the contract permits AI models to “train” on actors’ performances to create synthetic, or “Frankenstein,” characters. Actors will be allowed to prevent that only if the final output includes the actors’ recognizable facial features.
SAG-AFTRA tried to give itself a veto over the use of AI to create synthetic performances, but ultimately the union only achieved “notice” for such use.
Bateman claimed that permitting synthetic performers is “anathema” to a union contract.
“This is akin to SAG giving a thumbs-up for studios/streamers using non-union actors. I find it baffling that a union representing human actors would give approval of those same actors being replaced by an AI Object.”
The union’s chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland also spoke in defense of the the AI terms of the deal in the Monday Zoom meeting.
“There are some aspects of this agreement that aren’t perfect. This negotiating team fought so hard to get the best possible protections in artificial intelligence. We all play our hand. This hand that we have played from our perspective achieves what we set out.”
The circumstances aren’t ideal and the deal may not be perfect, but sometimes it’s best to fight smarter, not harder, or in this case louder. From my observations, many actors have already made up their minds without reading the full contract instead of summaries or attending the meeting today, while some are more at ease after they’ve had their concerns addressed at the meeting, while others who were present are still not convinced.
I’d advise actors to be patient, attend the informative meetings, and read the full contract when it’s made available before making a decision. After that, let democracy run its course.
Follow us on social media for updates on SAG-AFTRA’s tentative agreement as the situation develops.