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SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher responds to criticism of tentative agreement

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SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher has hit back at critics of the new tentative three-year agreement as the union began its charm offensive this week to sell the deal to members.

The union’s membership is voting on whether to ratify the agreement with studios and streamers. Drescher and national executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland are pitching the agreement to the union ahead of the December 5 deadline.

Drescher was moved to comment during a Zoom call to members on Monday after actor-filmmaker Justine Bateman took to X (formerly Twitter) to speak out over what she regarded as a lack of suitable AI protections.

“SAG signing off on “synthetic performers” and “digital doubles” taking the place of human performances throws every crew member under the bus,” Bateman posted. “No human actors = no set and no crew.”

“I just want you to know that nobody was thrown under the bus,” Drescher was reported on Variety telling union members. “If you read things like that, it’s very inflammatory and unfortunate, because it’s using social media and chat rooms to advance someone’s personal agenda.”

Drescher hit back at what she called “low-level people” and “naysayers” who disregarded the greater good of membership.

She urged actors to consider the entire package of gains and, along with Crabtree-Ireland, said the union’s negotiating committee could not achieve everything it set out to achieve but did get the best possible result.

Bateman, a child star on the hit 1980s show Family Ties who recently directed Violet, warned on X of generative AI granting film and TV creators the ability to train AI on existing actors, saying “a whole cast of AI Objects instead of human actors eliminates the need for a set or any crew at all”.

The union leaders also addressed the fund, namely that part of the streaming bonus mechanism which will disburse 25% of a “success payment” to union members after 75% of the money goes to the performers whose show or film triggers the payment.

Crabtree-Ireland reportedly told union members on Monday that one of the main priorities in the 2026 negotiation process will be to increase the amount of money that goes to the fund.

Click here to read the summary of the three-year TV and theatrical contract.

A majority “yes” ratification vote endorsing the tentative agreement will cement the three-year contract. A “no” vote will send the matter back to the negotiating committee and national board, who would discuss next steps including whether to resume the strike.

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