SAG/AFTRA strike support rises

Picket lines multiply as other unions increase solidarity

Striking union actors say other unions have been increasing support as the work stoppage against advertisers enters its 15th week.

“There’s a growing realization among the organized labor movement that the advertisers are out to bust our unions,” said New York strike captain Paul Reggio. “We’re seeing this as our strike starts to have an economic impact on other union members.”

With no new negotiations scheduled in the dispute, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists are counting on fellow unionists to boost pressure on the ad industry.

In addition to hitting non-union shoots, demonstrators have been picketing General Motors, AT&T and McDonald’s for shooting non-union spots and refusing to sign interim agreements with the unions.

With the idea of launching nationwide efforts, SAG and AFTRA leaders met with the national executive council of the AFL-CIO last week and will follow up with a strategy meeting Thursday in Washington, D.C.

“We’ve certainly been heartened by the support we’ve gotten so far, and we expect to see much more of a cooperative effort,” said Jerre Hookey, SAG’s national director of organizing. “We expect to win this strike, but we have to make certain that corporate America does not get a taste in its mouth for union-busting.”

Members of the Communications Workers of America, Teamsters, Operating Engineers and Intl. Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have honored SAG and AFTRA pickets in recent weeks.

On Friday, a 12-hour picket line at Bank of America’s headquarters in San Francisco kept away members of Local 39 Stationary Engineers, along with carpenters, painters, Teamsters, delivery services and sheet-metal workers.

“We’re expecting more of that same sort of cooperation in other places,” Hookey said.

In Los Angeles and New York, SAG and AFTRA report strong support from other industry unions such as the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the Directors Guild of America, even though IATSE and DGA are barred from staging sympathy strikes. But leaders report that members of other Hollywood unions have provided invaluable support by supplying details of non-union shoots and walking picket lines.

In Chicago, union supporters have demonstrated repeatedly in support of six Teamsters who have been suspended for refusing to cross a SAG/AFTRA picket line at a Quaker Oats loading dock.

Reggio also noted that high-profile SAG members have continued to show up at demonstrations, pointing out that Sam Waterston attended a picket Friday of a non-union Motrin shoot in Manhattan, while Frances Fisher walked a picket line for over an hour at a Captain Crunch shoot at Venice High School.

One female SAG demonstrator was slightly injured Friday outside a non-union casting office in Los Angeles when a male actor allegedly grabbed her camera after being photographed as he entered the building.

Supporters in St. Paul, Minn., picketed Thursday through Saturday at a Kohl’s non-union shoot; demonstrators picketed a non-union Lexus shoot in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday and Sunday.

In non-strike activity Friday, SAG members teamed with the Los Angeles Eye Institute and Lenscrafters to screen and provide eyeglasses to over 200 uninsured children.

SAG and AFTRA will hold a rally expected to draw more than 1,000 members at 10 a.m. today at the Hollywood Palladium, followed by a march against a yet-to-be-named target.

Union supporters are also planning to attend city council meetings in West Hollywood tonight and in Santa Monica on Tuesday to support proposals to ban shooting of commercials on public property with non-union actors while the strike is on. Commercial producers have argued that such proposals force them to shoot in Canada and overseas.

Activists are already planning to demonstrate on Aug. 28 in Palm Desert, Calif., at the Bighorn Golf Club where Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia will stage a televised match. SAG members have been outraged over Woods’ recent taping of a non-union Buick spot in Canada.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Weinstein Can Get a Fair Trial in Manhattan, Says D.A.

    The Manhattan District Attorney’s office argued on Friday that Harvey Weinstein can get a fair trial in Manhattan, and blamed the producer’s defense team for much of the pre-trial publicity in the case. Weinstein’s attorneys have asked an appellate court to transfer the case — which is set to begin on Sept. 9 — to [...]

  • Leonardo DiCaprio Madonna

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna Call for Action on Amazon Wildfires

    As wildfires rage at an alarming rate in Brazil’s Amazon rain forest, celebrities are using their platforms to bring awareness to the deforestation’s impact and to call for action. In the past week, stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna, Cara Delevingne and Ariana Grande have taken to Instagram to express their frustration with the lack of [...]

  • 'The Durrells' TV Show

    Greece Sweetens Production Incentives as Struggling Country's Economy Rebounds

    It’s taken the better part of a decade for Greece to show signs of recovery from the crippling crisis that almost pushed it out of the Eurozone. Now, with the economy slowly on the mend, the government is doubling down on efforts to jump-start the local film industry, giving a dramatic overhaul to the incentive [...]

  • Warner Music Group Partners With Audiomack

    Warner Music Group Partners With Audiomack

    Warner Music Group announced it has entered a partnership with the music streaming and discovery service Audiomack, marking the platform’s first licensing deal with a major label. According to the announcement, the two companies will work together on content concepts and explore ways to break emerging artists, connecting music fans with rising talent before they [...]

  • Scooter Braun Congratulates Taylor Swift on

    Scooter Braun Congratulates Taylor Swift on ‘Brilliant’ Album and Campaign

    Two days after Taylor Swift fired off the latest salvo in her battle with Scooter Braun, the manager congratulated the singer on the campaign around her “brilliant” new album, “Lover,” which arrived last night. The message came after Swift said she will be re-recording songs from her first six albums, which are now owned by [...]

  • David Koch Obit

    David Koch, Libertarian Activist and Billionaire Philanthropist, Dies at 79

    David Koch, brother of Charles Koch and one of the owners of Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in the U.S., has died at 79. According to the New York Times, Charles Koch announced the news of his brother’s death in a statement. Though he did not attribute to David’s death to a particular cause, [...]

  • Beverly Hills Realtor Accused of Stealing

    Beverly Hills Realtor Accused of Stealing From Usher, Adam Lambert

    A Beverly Hills real estate agent has been arrested on charges of stealing from the homes of celebrities, including Usher, Adam Lambert and “Real Housewives” star Dorit Kemsley. Jason Emil Yaselli, 32, is accused of encouraging an accomplice, Benjamin Ackerman, to enter homes during open houses in order to steal from them. Ackerman allegedly sold [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content