The union instructed its 160,000 members on Sept. 20 not to accept any work for BBH, which had been signed to SAG-AFTRA’s commercials contracts since 1999. The strike came two weeks after BBH publicly announced that it had withdrawn from the contract, asserting that the agreement is outdated and accusing the union of being inflexible.
SAG-AFTRA said Tuesday the Brighthouse Financial ad was shot in New York and New Jersey this week in which BBH paid performers — mostly senior citizens — non-union wages. A rep for Brighthouse declined to comment when contacted by Variety.
“If Brighthouse Financial stands by their mission to help people achieve financial security, then why are they working through BBH?” asked SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris. “Brighthouse is effectively depriving actors of a living wage and health benefits that help support their families.”
SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White said, “Performers achieve health benefits and financial security through SAG-AFTRA collective bargaining agreements. However, the actors that worked on this shoot are further from achieving financial security. Brighthouse has $217 billion in assets and $83 billion in investments. They profit by using these actors’ performances. They can afford to utilize companies that treat actors with respect and pay the same rates that other companies pay for the same work.”
SAG-AFTRA has been ramping activity on the commercials front, where it faces the challenge of advertisers using non-union actors. It’s held a dozen demonstrations and has brought on Bryan Cranston in a video backing its “Ads Go Union” campaign to persuade advertisers to stop using non-union actors.
SAG-AFTRA is prepping for a successor deal on its commercials contract, which represents over $1 billion in annual earnings for union members. SAG-AFTRA’s current deal with the Joint Policy Committee, which represents advertisers and advertising agencies, expires on March 31. The two sides will begin meeting in New York next month.
The union also took a swipe at Brighthouse on its Twitter account:
Hey, @BrighthouseFin, how can you accomplish your “mission to help people achieve financial security,” when your ad agency (@BBHblacksheep) is taking it away from its workers? #StrikeBBH #AdsGoUnion https://t.co/HgPlAGFVJy pic.twitter.com/qOu1FMtpFP
— SAG-AFTRA (@sagaftra) January 8, 2019