SAG-AFTRA staged an ”educational leafletting” today to protest a non-union National Basketball Assn. commercial that was shooting at the famous Venice Beach Basketball Courts. Deadline first reported on Aug. 8 that actors were being cast in L.A. for the non-union ad.
“The NBA TV commercial hired non-professional performers at low wages, undercutting the earnings of professionals on union contracts,” the union said. Some 40 SAG-AFTRA members passed out literature and talked to the cast, basketball players and beachgoers about the benefits of working union.
The leafletting is part of the union’s ongoing campaign to combat non-union TV commercials. In addition to grassroots members working to counter the growth of non-union commercial production, the union is disciplining members who accept non-union work. The guild launched a Commercials Organizing and Recapture Initiative in 2015 to stem the tide of nonunion commercial productions, which eat into the $1 billion its members earn each year on union shoots.
As part of those efforts, the union says it’s caught more than 130 of its members who have worked on non-union ads and sent them through the guild’s disciplinary process, where they face fines, suspension or expulsion.
SAG-AFTRA says it’s also undertaking “an extensive outreach effort to grow commercial work opportunities for professional performers on union contracts. This industry outreach and relationship building efforts are paying off. For instance, The Honest Company, founded by member Jessica Alba, this week signed the union’s Commercials Contracts. This win-win arrangement allows Honest access to the union’s strong talent base, while assuring that performers on all of the company’s commercials are paid fair wages, and are eligible to receive pension and health benefits.”