SAG-AFTRA Chief Duncan Crabtree-Ireland Blasts Studios At Big Times Square Rally

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA’s national executive director and chief negotiator, blasted the AMPTP at a strike rally Tuesday in Times Square, saying that the companies’ response to the guild’s proposals before contract talks broke off and the actors’ strike began 12 days ago was “No. No. No.”

Speaking before hundreds of cheering actors and their supporters from other guilds and unions, Crabtree-Ireland noted that when he and SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher had talked to the CEOs of three of the studios on that last day of bargaining May 12, “We said: ‘Here’s all you have to do to make sure there’s no strike. All you have to do is make this fair deal.’

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“And their response was, ‘No.’ Just like their response to so many of our proposals that we’ve said are essential for actors being treated in a respectful and fair way.

“Do actors get to have minimum wage increases that keep up with inflation? ‘No.’

“Do actors get to have a share of the streaming revenue that has been created because of their faces and their voices on these new platforms, these new businesses these companies are creating? ‘No. We don’t even want to talk about it.’

“Are they willing to give actors true informed consent about the use of their own face, voice, body, likeness in the creation of artificial intelligence digital doubles of them? ‘No.’”

“This strike,” he said, “is the result of big corporations that refuse to treat our members fairly. And it’s not okay, and we are standing up and we are saying ‘No’ to that…This is a united membership who are standing together and are saying ‘No’ to an unfair deal. Are saying ‘No’ to disrespect from these companies.”

The SAG-AFTRA rally, dubbed Rock the City for a Fair Contract, just wrapped at Times Square and featured speeches from Bryan Cranston, Christie Baranski, Stephen Lang, Wendell Pierce, Christian Slater, Liza Colón Zayas among others who attended the event, which took over the Times Square Pedestrian Plaza on Broadway between 43rd and 44th streets. WGA East

Crabtree-Ireland, who has been crisscrossing the country in the past week and was in New York after attending Comic-Con last week in San Diego, added, “Before the AMPTP walked away from the bargaining table – and make no mistake, they walked away from the bargaining table – we may be on strike, but I said to them on July 12th that we are ready to continue talking tomorrow and every after until we reach a deal. And I’ve said that every day since, to the media, to them and to anyone who will listen. SAG-AFTRA is ready, willing and able to return to the bargaining table. The only reason we aren’t there right now is because those companies said that they didn’t want to deal with people who are ‘uncivilized.’ (Boos from the crowd.) And because those companies said that they wouldn’t be ready to talk for quite some time. (More boos and jeers.) That’s right. That’s exactly right. We reject that.

“We made a very reasonable proposal to share in the revenue from the streaming platform that’s been created because of you – all of you. And their response to that was ‘We’re not interested in discussing that.’ And now the AMPTP is trying to claim that their last contract offer to us is worth over $1 billion a year. Which is not true at all. But the fact is, none of their spin is going to trick anyone. It’s not going to fool you and it’s not going to fool anyone else out there.

“When they say that they would have agreed to our informed consent proposals on AI, well you know what? Great. I wish they would have. Because what? I was going to say ‘no’ to that if they agreed to it? No. Their idea of informed consent is you come in on the first day of work, or even before you get hired, and you have to agree in advance that you’re going to let them do whatever they want with your digital replica. That’s not real consent. That’s bogus. It’s not legitimate.

“By the way, we’ve talked a lot about how this effects background actors, and rightly so, because background actors would be abused under their proposal. But you know what? It’s not only background actors. They made the same proposal for franchise projects. So any principal performer out there who thought, ‘Oh, wow. I might have a chance to get on a Marvel movie.’ Well, you know what? That job could be your last because they can tell you that if you want that job, you have to agree to give your consent for them to use your digital replica forever with no additional consent and no additional compensation. And that is wrong.

“And until these companies come to the table and make a fair and respectful deal, we are going to continue to be on the strike lines, we are going to continue to say ‘No’ to an unfair abuse of their power in trying to coerce us into accepting something that’s wrong. There comes a time when you have to stand up for what’s right, and that time is now.”

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