Nearly a thousand boisterous SAG-AFTRA members picketed the L.A. offices of the Bartle Bogle Hegarty ad agency today, carrying picket signs and chanting “Actors united will never be divided.” The 160,000-member union went on strike against BBH last week after accusing it of “illegally attempting to abandon its union contract.”
The picketers came by the bus load, cheering beneath a giant inflatable rat every time a car honked in support. The rat, a union rep said, symbolized “that this agency has ratted out on its agreement.”
“We’re here because it’s so important for this commercial agency to respect the agreement we’ve had with them for 20 years to provide fair pay and safe sets,” said Jane Austin, president of the union’s LA local and secretary treasurer of SAG-AFTRA. “It’s not okay just to stop representing the agreements we already have.”
“I’m here in solidarity with my union,” actor Elliott Gould told Deadline.
BBH, a global agency with U.S. offices in New York and Los Angeles, had been signed to SAG-AFTRA’s Commercials Contracts since 1999, but says it decided not to renew its signatory status. “We do not expect the strike to have any noticeable impact on our company or any ongoing client work, especially as we have been a non-signatory to the SAG-AFTRA contract since November 2017,” the ad agency said.
The union announced today’s rally after calling the strike Sept. 20.