SAG-AFTRA Leaders Ramp Up Rhetoric Against Studio Bosses, Accuse Them Of “Behaving Like Petty Tyrants”

With the actors’ strike now in its 63rd day, SAG-AFTRA leaders are ramping up their rhetoric against the studio heads, accusing them in the latest issue of the SAG-AFTRA Magazine of “behaving like petty tyrants,” “would-be feudal lords” and “land barons in feudal times.”

Contract talks broke off July 13 after more than four weeks of bargaining, and the strike began the next day. Since then, the two sides haven’t met despite repeated calls by SAG-AFTRA leaders for a resumption of negotiations that have gone unheeded by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

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“Right now, the AMPTP is refusing to negotiate with us,” SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher writes in the magazine. “They are punishing us for exercising our legal right to strike…They are not land barons in feudal times, and we are not their serfs. How dare they think we are less than an enemy camp they need to step on in their insatiable appetite for greed?”

Click for the latest SAG-AFTRA Magazine issue.

“The studios’ blatant disregard and downright contempt for the creative people who make the entertainment on which their empires are built is repugnant and offensive,” writes Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the guild’s national executive director and chief negotiator. “From the dismissive statements to the press to the disrespect of members during the negotiating process to the now-infamous tree-trimming and ripping up of sidewalks in front of Universal Studios to make picketing harder and less safe, studio bosses have been behaving like petty tyrants rather than partners in creating great entertainment.”

“There’s so much more at stake in this strike than just our proposals to the AMPTP,” writes Ben Whitehair, the guild’s executive vice president. “It’s about whether workers should share in the fruits of their labor or be kicked to the curb with mere scraps begrudgingly handed out by would-be feudal lords.”

The Writers Guild, meanwhile, has been on strike since May 2, but had several days of bargaining with the AMPTP last month. The AMPTP made a counteroffer to the guild’s original demands on August 11, and the WGA offered counterproposals on August 15. On August 22, the AMPTP publicly released its unchanged offer from August 11, “ignoring the WGA’s August 15 counterproposal entirely,” the guild says.

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