Striking union actors slammed George W. Bush on Thursday, the final day of the Republican convention in Philadelphia, with a local ad blitz highlighting his campaign’s use of non-union actors for campaign spots.
“Despite earlier promises to employ union actors, the George W. Bush presidential campaign has made the decision to produce advertisements without a union contract,” the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists said. “This decision is an insult to actors! This decision is an insult to labor!”
Print ads ran in the Metro commuter paper and broadcast spots aired on news station KYW Philadelphia. John Kailin, director of the AFTRA/SAG office in Philadelphia, said the unions decided that the ad campaign would be more effective than demonstrating at the convention.
“With the police clamping down on protesters, we felt this was the best way to get our message out,” he said.
Bush’s media consultant signed an interim agreement with SAG soon after the strike began in May, but the campaign shot an ad in July in New York with non-union actors. Al Gore, who will be officially nominated later this month by the Democratic Party in Los Angeles, has signed an interim deal with SAG under which union actors can perform.
Despite the tiff with SAG and AFTRA, Bush and the GOP have been looking to mend fences with labor, not usually the party’s major supporter. In an unusual move, the Republican National Committee honored Teamster chief James Hoffa Jr. and his union at a reception earlier this week in Philadelphia as the convention got under way.
Hoffa is playing coy and keeping his options open. He plans to attend the Democratic convention in Los Angeles as well and said the 1.5 million member union will make an endorsement decision sometime around Labor Day.
IATSE endorses Gore
The Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees endorsed Gore last week, but before casting the die, unions and many other groups were expected to listen carefully Thursday night as Bush took the podium to deliver his acceptance speech for his party’s presidential nomination.