Screen Actors Guild Went After Child Actress for Non-Union Role

12-year-old hits Hollywood powerhouse with labor complaint

January 30, 2020

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) went after a child actress who appeared in a non-union commercial before she even joined the powerful labor group, according to a federal complaint.

SAG attempted to discipline 12-year-old Aundrea Smith when it discovered that she performed in a non-union commercial. Despite the fact that Smith appeared in the commercial before she even joined the guild, SAG threatened to discipline the young actress. Smith is now fighting back, slapping the labor group with a complaint filed to the National Labor Relations Board.

"[SAG] has violated the rights of Charging Party, a minor ... by instituting proceedings and threatening to impose internal union discipline for actions taken by [Smith] when [she] was not a member," the complaint says.

Smith joined SAG in April, one month after shooting the non-union commercial. The young actress resigned her membership in August, but union officials have continued to pursue discipline against her. The case pits Smith against a labor union with more than 100,000 active members. SAG declined to comment on the complaint, telling the Washington Free Beacon the organization does not comment on member disciplinary matters.

Smith referred requests for comments to her attorneys at the National Right to Work Foundation. Foundation president Mark Mix ripped the guild’s leaders as "power hungry" for their attacks on the young starlet.

"It’s a testament to how low power hungry SAG-AFTRA union bosses will go, that they are willing to bully a 12-year-old actress just because she chose to appear in a commercial outside of union control," Mix told the Free Beacon.

SAG has taken aggressive action against union members who participate in non-union commercials in the past. A 2018 Hollywood Reporter article detailed how 160 members worked on non-union commercials and were subject to disciplinary hearings. The complaint said the guild's treatment of Smith violated the National Labor Relations Act, which gives workers the ability to decide whether or not to associate with a union without fear of retribution.

The legal complaint comes after the bitter reelection campaign of the Screen Actors Guild’s president, Gabrielle Carteris. Her campaign became the target of internal protests over accusations she received "improper" contributions for her work as an actress and producer on a Fox show, according to Deadline. The Department of Labor found no reason to nullify the election, which was confirmed after months of delay. Carteris has since called for unity among actors, but the guild has also faced criticism from liberal activists inside and outside of the industry for the lack of diversity among its 2020 awards nominees.

Published under: Big Labor , SAG , Union