Welcome to my Blog!

Welcome to my Blog!
I created it so that I could share acting tips with you; things I've learned over the years, working on set, teaching classes, coaching actors, auditioning actors, etc.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Happy Labor Day!


labor union

: an organization of workers formed for the purpose of advancing its members' interests in respect to wages, benefits, and working conditions

-Merriam Webster

Every so often I hear an actor complain, "I pay my money to the union and they don't do ANYTHING to get me a job."  I've also heard producers complain (many times) about how unions are pain and all they do is "just cause problems". 

I completely agree! (but do read on anyway)...

I agree that you pay your union dues and the union doesn't help you get a job...
Because that's not what a union does!  Please read the definition above again.  Does it mention getting you a job?  I'll wait.

Thank a Union...
So, the purpose of a union is not to get you work, it's to get you good pay and benefits and working conditions when you DO work.  Let's take a look at what a union (e.g. SAG-AFTRA or Actors Equity) actually does do for you.  The image above names some of the basic minimum guarantees that workers receive thanks to unions.  But SAG-AFTRA members receive much more than this. 

And those Producers' complaints about unions causing "problems"?  

I agree with that too!  Here's a few of the "problems" that unions cause...

Thanks to our union, when we work, on most of our major contracts, we're paid more than $800 per day plus we get (well) fed and often overtime and meal penalties and residuals that can be in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.  If they work us all night they have to give us 12 hours off (or they pay us even more).  We also get contributions toward Pension Plans and Health plans. Non-union productions usually pay less than half the union rate with no residuals and no benefits.

Now, to producers all this may sound like "problems" and they may feel that for actors it's "too good to be true", but actors know that you have to factor in time spent auditioning and money spent on head shots, marketing materials (postcards, etc.), ongoing training, and 90% of the union is out of work at any given moment!  Well, let's just say it's not "too good to be true".  It's easy to see why even working actors are mostly struggling to stay in the middle-class.  Residuals and insurance are very important to most working actors.

Here's the question I always ask people that complain about SAG-AFTRA.  And it applies to all labor unions even though I'm talking about the TV and movie business.  When I hear them complain about the "evil union" I simply ask them:

Would you rather work on a union or a non-union film?

That shuts them up! Obviously the answer is always either "union" or... well, silence.  And if they do answer "union" I ask them, "Why?" ...

Unions aren't perfect, but they're fighting for the worker.  So called "Right-to-Work" and "Financial Core" are hurting our unions therefore they're hurting us.  SAG-AFTRA and Actors Equity exist for one reason - to watch your back.  If you want to improve your union, instead of complaining, volunteer!  Join a committee that interests you. Run for office. Your union is only as good as it's members.

I'm proud to serve as a National Board Member of SAG-AFTRA.

Happy Labor Day!

["This message is created by the blogger independently and not by SAG-AFTRA. Any opinion expressed is solely that of the blogger and does not reflect any opinion, position or policy of the SAG-AFTRA."]

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