New York, NY – About 200 striking members of the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) rallied in front of the ad agency Bartle, Bogle and Hegarty’s (BBH) Tribeca offices on Thursday, November 1, to bring attention to the company’s abandonment of their 20-year contract with the union.
They were joined by members of other unions, such as Local 802, the Associated Musicians of Greater New York and PSC CUNY, the Professional Staff Congress. The rally featured a brass band and a mock “bake sale” with fake money, the non-existent proceeds to go to “poor” BBH, whose practices of shooting commercials with non-union actors in order to avoid paying performers a living wage reflect a “let them eat cake” mentality. The agency is avoiding its responsibility to pay fair wages and contribute to performers’ pension and health benefits, as well as to provide a safe workplace and protect workers’ performance rights.
Rebecca Damon, SAG-AFTRA executive vice president and New York local president, Brad Hoylman, New York State senator, 27th Senate District, Kathy Hochul, lieutenant governor, Mario Cilento, president, New York State AFL-CIO, and Vincent Alvarez, president, New York City Central Labor Council, were in attendance and addressed the crowd outside at 32 6th Avenue.
“BBH says paying performers is ‘too expensive,’” said Damon. “We are here to ‘help them’ and to make some noise. We said just want to make a living wage and they said, ‘Let them eat cake.’ We have had a relationship with BBH for 20 years…This is serious business…We are not giving up.” Hochul said, “We are taking a stand against corporate greed in American. This is the great state of New York. You are not touching our hardworking men and women…they think they can leave the ‘crumbs’ to the rest of us.” Hoylman said, “In this global economy where massive corporate interests are working to sell products across the world, they want to take advantage of our wunion workers, they want to take advantage of New Yorkers. I want to tell [them] New York City is a union town!”
Chants of “Poor poor BBH, won’t pay actors a fair wage,” and “Union jobs are what we need, human needs not corporate greed!” echoed the politicians’ and officials’ words, and the band played the national anthem as the “bake sale” cupcakes and cookies were passed along to the striking workers.