Striking actors converge on P&G

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About 50 members of the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television & Radio Artists picketed Procter & Gamble Co.'s shareholders meeting on Oct. 10 and staged a brief sit-in at its Cincinnati headquarters. The actions kicked off the unions' boycott of P&G's Crest, Tide and Ivory brands. The AFL-CIO-endorsed boycott was called to protest P&G's use of non-union actors to shoot commercials during the actors strike and what union members said was P&G's hard line on the committee negotiating on behalf of the ad industry. Talks are scheduled to resume Oct. 19, after breaking off late last month.

At the Cincinnati gathering, Thor Bishopric, president of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television & Radio Artists Performers Guild, said his union has strengthened its support of the U.S. strike by asking members not to work on any commercials destined for use in the U.S. Stars on hand included Rob Schneider of NBC's "Saturday Night Live,'' Al Sapienza of HBO's "The Sopranos'' and Bonnie Bartlett, a character actress in such films as "Primary Colors'' who was also the first "Pampers Mom'' in ads P&G ran in 1961.

"It's unfortunate at a time of unprecedented prosperity that P&G would want to offer working-class actors what amounts to a 40% pay cut,'' Mr. Schneider said, adding, "P&G is one of the leading forces in the negotiating committee for the advertisers. It is a well-known hard liner within that committee. It is one of the largest advertisers in the world, and it is insistent on breaking this strike and these unions by using scab labor to make commercials while the strike goes on.''

Ms. Bartlett said she had donated to the SAG strike relief fund $10,000 she recently received from P&G for reuse of one of her 1960s commercials within a new ad for Crest.

Picketers marched three blocks from the shareholders meeting to P&G's headquarters to stage a sit-in but dispersed after being threatened with arrest by Cincinnati Police. A P&G spokesman said the company had been unfairly singled out from among hundreds of national advertisers and that the industry has offered "a fair and reasonable contract.''

Copyright October 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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