SAG-AFTRA Accuses Grey of Using Non-Union Talent

By Patrick Coffee 

In case January’s stunt at Droga5 headquarters in Manhattan didn’t prove this point, SAG-AFTRA does NOT fuck around.

The entity formerly known as the Screen Actors Guild is coming down hard on the ad industry for not always using union members in its campaigns, and Grey has become its latest target.

Today someone forwarded us this email, which appears to have gone out to SAG members yesterday. The group has also posted the note on its website, so they’re not exactly playing coy about investigating Grey.

This is an urgent notice regarding Grey Global Group and 23 Townhouse.

SAG-AFTRA has serious concerns about signatory advertising agency Grey Global and its relationship to 23 Townhouse (a.k.a. Townhouse 23). The union believes Grey Global may be trying to produce non-union commercials through 23 Townhouse and avoiding its commitment to the wages, terms and conditions in the SAG-AFTRA Commercials Contracts.

We have tried to contact Grey Global about these potential violations—without success. Today, Thursday April 28, 2016, in the absence of a response from Grey Global, the union issued a formal Claim and Information Request in advance of potential arbitration and NLRB actions.

You can help move this investigation forward. If you or anyone you know has worked on a 23 Townhouse production OR if you’ve seen any info about 23 Townhouse and Grey Global while on set, please click on this email address:

This will launch a blank email so you can provide us details (dates worked, advertiser, production info, etc).

A union staff member will follow up with you. Any info provided is confidential.

In solidarity,


Earlier this month, SAG-AFTRA and the advertising industry (as represented by ANA-4A’s) came to a tentative agreement on conditions for contracts moving forward. The main idea here was that actors–and specifically union members–need to fashion new agreements with agencies and clients to ensure fair pay in an era of budget cuts and social media influencers who are about as far from “organized labor” as one can possibly be.

23 Townhouse is more than a little mysterious given its non-presence in search results, but it certainly reads like SAG-AFTRA is accusing Grey of attempting to save money by going with non-union actors and production units for work on an unspecified campaign and thereby violating existing agreements.

Despite the tenuous agreement reached earlier this month, the parties involved in the negotiations are still working out “Key details of the agreement, including the number of years it covers.” It’s a little hard to root for anyone when we’re discussing two creative industries equally concerned with unsatisfactory pay, a lack of job security and the general perception that everyone is trying to rip them off.

Grey hasn’t commented on the note, but we’ll update this post when their legal team gets back to us.