SAG-AFTRA has culminated its campaign against ad agency Droga5 for using union performers for non-union work, leaving a petition with 8,000 signatures at the agency’s New York headquarters.
The union said Tuesday that Droga5 representatives refused to accept the petition or discuss the union’s concerns.
“SAG-AFTRA went to Droga5 today and stood up to agencies that exploit performers by continuing the destructive practice of unfair pay,” said SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White.
“This event demonstrates the strength wielded by our members’ united voice and the union’s dedication to all performers who seek an acting career,” White said. “There is no place in the growing, lucrative advertising industry for companies that undermine performer rights in the name of profit, and we’ll continue to fight for fair wages, working conditions and benefits for all actors.”
SAG-AFTRA New York Local President Mike Hodge, who led the event, noted that the NYPD was called in response to the union’s efforts to drop off the petition. “Today’s action shows Droga5 we’re not going away quietly and reminds them that treating hard-working performers in an equitable fashion and allowing them to earn a middle-class living is the right thing to do,” he added.
Dorga5 has said that it does not hire SAG-AFTRA members for non-union productions:
“Droga5 remains a non-signatory to the SAG commercials contract, enabling us to engage in non-union shoots when it is deemed appropriate. However, when managing SAG productions, we always use SAG performers, which include any commercials for SAG-signatory clients or featuring any SAG celebrity talent. In those instances, we abide by SAG rules and pay SAG wages across the board. We do not engage SAG performers in non-union productions.”
Along with delivering the petition, SAG-AFTRA also placed mock ads on the web sites of Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Ad Week and Advertising Age reading “Actors Wanted: Must be cool with unfair pay, no benefits, exploitation. Cojntact Droga5 if interested.”
SAG-AFTRA is also running a social media campaign on the issue, using the hashtag #AdsGoUnion on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
The union first announced in October that it was campaigning against the New York-based agency. Its clients include Coca-Cola, Google, Heineken International, Hennessy, Mondelēz International, Motorola, Prudential, Toyota, Scion, Unilever, Under Armour and Qantas.
SAG-AFTRA launched a campaign last year against performing work in the fast-growing non-union commercial sector, dubbing it the Commercials Organizing and Recapture Initiative. The Droga5 campaign came at the same time that SAG-AFTRA was starting its meetings with the membership to hammer out proposals for its negotiations with the advertising industry.
The current three-year deal — which covers about $1 billion in annual earnings — expires on March 31. Negotiations are scheduled to start in February.
SAG-AFTRA members can face disciplinary charges for working for non-signatories. It disclosed in a message to members in July that more than a dozen members were referred to the SAG-AFTRA Legal Department for Global Rule 1 disciplinary proceedings based on evidence gathered as part of this organizing initiative.
The union tweeted several photos of Tuesday’s event: