Food for Thought: Labor Day and Nanny star Fran Drescher’s call for just pay and worker rights

Screen Actors Guild President and Nanny actress Fran Drescher at press conference announcing strike plans. Credit: Allison Zaucha, Washington Post

By Olivia Salzwedel, Alliance Intern from University of Minnesota Morris ’22

Organized labor is growing in numbers and union support is at an all time high with over 71% of Americans supporting unions and 50% of non-union workers said they would support a union forming in their workplace, according to The Washington Post. This is due in part to widespread publicity from the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and The Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) strikes. The powerful voice of SAG President and Nanny actress Fran Drescher is inspiring new organization techniques and steeled resolve of hospital workers, grad students and more.

She points out the need to fight the massive pay gap between top executives and workers. “The eyes of the world” are watching and if “we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be in trouble” states Drescher. July 2023 was one of the biggest months in US history for strikes with over 179,000 workers walking out of their jobs, from Hollywood unions to Amazon drivers. Workers are struggling to stay afloat among rising inflation rates with one Starz writer saying money is so tight he is forced to ration food and bike to avoid paying for gas.

According to the EPI, CEOs make 399 times more than their average worker so it’s understandable that workers are enraged. Drescher has been all over the news and talk shows persuasively pointing out the discrepancy, saying “Wall Street has forgotten about the essential contributors that make the machine run.”

The SAG-AFTRA and WGA have bonded together for the first time since 1960 to take on Hollywood CEOs to change the contract, both monetarily and socially. In addition to the pay gap and even lack of basic wages, they are concerned about the effects of AI and the loss of residuals from streaming on their future income. Companies claim they are “losing money left and right when giving hundreds of millions of dollars to their CEOs. It is disgusting,” says Drescher. 

Writers and actors of popular shows and movies are struggling to make ends meet and aren’t being monetarily appreciated for their beautiful and creative work that America appreciates so much. “We demand respect and to be honored for our contribution,” says Drescher. To hear more from Drescher, see this video or transcript of her news conference announcing plans to strike. It’s time that all of us recognize the essential contribution of labor and make a commitment that every worker receive just compensation. Here’s to a great new Labor Day!

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