SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher has shot down a proposal from George Clooney and several other actors that would have removed the cap of union dues for high-earning members, saying it would be a nice gesture, but not legally compatible with their current contract.
Earlier this week, Clooney and a handful of other high-profile actors proposed an idea that would see major stars like Clooney paying more than is currently required in union dues in order to help narrow the gap between the union’s asks in the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, and what the AMPTP is willing to give. The proposal also was seeking to get lower-income members paid in residuals first before any high-income members.
Currently, an earnings cap of $1 million exists for members, but the proposal would have seen stars paying more than is typically required.
Drescher says idea wouldn’t legally work
While Drescher applauded and even accepted the idea, and thanked those involved for the “extremely generous” offer, she said that legally, the proposal couldn’t work due to the union’s contract.
“First of all, I want to thank certain members that wield a lot of clout in this business for the tremendous amount of money that they contributed to our foundation,” Drescher said in an Instagram video (via The Hollywood Reporter). “I also want to thank George Clooney for organizing the suggestion that…take the caps off of the dues so that the highest paid members can contribute more. Although that’s extremely generous and we accept that graciously.”
“We are a federally regulated labor union and the only contributions that can go into our pension and health funds must be from the employer. So what we are fighting for in terms of benefits has to remain in this contract…[It’s] kind of apples and oranges, just so everybody understands that,” Drescher continued.
Residual idea also not applicable, says Drescher
Dresher went on to address the idea of giving residuals to lower-income members first, an idea that she said was vetted by the union’s staff negotiators and lawyers, and found that it didn’t “hold water.” The simple solution, Dresher continued, is that CEOs return to the table to negotiate with the union.
“There was a reference to a suggestion of maybe a solution from some people of how maybe we can get back to the table with some kind of a residual,” said Drescher. “But that was vetted by our very experienced union contract staff negotiators and lawyers. And they said that it unfortunately doesn’t hold water because, frankly, this is a very nuanced house of cards. So although we appreciate the effort and the desire to be supportive to all the member body, we at the union and with the negotiating committee are still waiting for the CEOs to return to the table so we can continue our talks. Because in either saying no or walking away from the table, you are not really in a negotiation.”
Recently, talks between the union and the AMPTP broke down last week and were suspended. According to reports on the matter, talks broke down after the AMPTP declined SAG-AFTRA’s proposals to share 2% of streaming revenue. Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos acknowledged the reports by noting that the move was a “bridge too far” for the union.