UPDATED with L.A. Local results: Fran Drescher has been reelected president of SAG-AFTRA in a landslide. Drescher, winning a second two-year term in votes counted Friday, handily defeated independent candidate Maya Gilbert-Dunbar. Drescher received 23,080 votes to Gilbert-Dunbar’s 5,276, with 22.84% of the guild’s 124,477 eligible members casting ballots.
Drescher’s unity slate running mate, Joely Fisher, also won reelection as the guild’s secretary-treasurer, handily defeating independent candidate Peter Antico by a vote of 19,777 to 8,361.
“I am honored to serve my union as president for another term,” Drescher said in a statement. “These are dynamic times and as one member body, we will weather the storms, stand on our principles and make sure our major contributions to this collaborative art form shall never again be diminished but rather be exalted. I want all members to be equal in all ways and I will continue to fight against marginalization and discrimination within our union, from our employers and the world at large.
“Our main objective as a labor union must be to make sure everyone has equal opportunity to work. Together, we will watch partisanship fade away as we develop a new culture of respect, patience and understanding. Taking our time, speaking from the heart and making decisions must be based on wisdom and not politics. Much has been accomplished in the past two years, but I feel great optimism that the next two will be our greatest ever! As we let go of tribalism and gain more empathy for one another, as we realize that with each experience comes opportunity to better ourselves on our journey of self-refinement, we will also enter a Golden Age for SAG-AFTRA.”
Fisher said that “In these challenging times, performers do what they’ve always done best: work together towards a common goal. I’m grateful for your trust in my work on behalf of my union siblings and steadfast in my commitment to you. I want to acknowledge every member who recognized this auspicious moment and volunteered to serve. Your willingness to run for office and contribute is deeply appreciated by your union family. When we’re fighting against the entire show business establishment, the last thing we needed was to fight each other. I’m glad you all agree.
“I’m overwhelmed by your unprecedented support and promise that president Drescher and I will move forward with the same commitment to unity exhibited in this election process and — finally — a decent contract. President Drescher and I are so thrilled to work alongside all of you as we usher in a new age for SAG-AFTRA — where we are all respected and sufficiently paid for our contribution to this industry.”
SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said: “I would like to congratulate all of our leaders elected today. I am excited to continue to work with President Drescher and Secretary-Treasurer Fisher. The staff and I are eager to work with all of the elected leaders nationwide on the many union initiatives and goals that will be served by their leadership.”
Two years ago, as the industry was rebounding from the Covid pandemic, Drescher was elected president at the top of the ruling Unite for Strength slate, while Fisher was elected secretary-treasurer on the opposition party’s MembershipFirst ticket. In that election, Drescher defeated Matthew Modine to win the presidency in a squeaker, 16,958 votes to 15,371, while Fisher easily defeated Drescher’s running mate, Anthony Rapp.
But in an unprecedented show of solidarity, the two factions put aside their differences and joined forces in June — with Drescher and Fisher now on the same team — to form a unity slate in advance of the guild’s strike against film and TV productions, which is now in its 57th day.
On the formation of her unity slate, Drescher said that “This show of solidarity brings tears to my eyes. I have been running a nonpartisan administration, reaching across the aisle to represent and honor those member leaders who may not have supported me in 2021, but have now pledged to do so in 2023. We stand upon the precipice of a new dawn. And with this show of solidarity, we have become all the more empowered.”
Fisher said at the time that “We are witnessing a paradigm shift. Fran has opened the door to unification – this collaboration will finally bring that to fruition. This comes at a time when the membership truly needs the full weight of their union fighting for their creative and economic ideals, not against each other.”
In other results Friday, Gilbert-Dunbar also lost her race for the presidency of the guild’s Los Angeles Local, losing to incumbent Jodi Long by a vote of 6,631 to 3,543.
In other L.A. Local races, Sheryl Lee Ralph was elected first vice president and David Jolliffe was elected second vice president. Dunbar-Gilbert’s husband, Rockmond Dunbar, finished out of the money in third place.
The husband-and-wife Dunbars also lost their races to win seats on the national and L.A. Local boards, although Maya won a seat as a convention delegate.
In the race for seats on the national board representing Los Angeles, where nearly half the membership lives, Jennifer Beals finished first, followed by Joely Fisher, Long, Frances Fisher and Joanna Cassidy. Others elected to the national board were Michelle Hurd, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Jolliffe, Jane Austin, A Martinez, Lisa Ann Walter, Shaan Sharma and Elliot Gould.
All in all, it was nearly a clean sweep for the Drescher-Fisher unity slate.