Monday, January 30, 2012

One united union doesn't change the importance of "don't rush to join" ...

AFTRA and SAG members will soon have their say in the next (and final) step toward the big “I do” between the two performer’s unions. With their Board’s vote of approval this weekend, AFTRA leadership officially joined with SAG leadership in moving the new SAG-AFTRA towards consummation.

The “devil” that may have been in the details seems well on its way to a resolve. Aside from these health and pension items, the rest seems, potentially, rather seamless. We know a few of the details of what the merger will mean to actors who are not yet in either union or who are members of only one union. It will all become public very soon as the merger ballots and supporting documents are issued.

Jonathan Handel, in the current issue of Back Stage, does a great job of spelling out the bigger picture of what lies ahead. A tougher admissions policy will no doubt spell the end of AFTRA’s just walk up and pay membership plan, but the future of SAG’s more complicated and stricter rules for membership will also undergo changes. On the journey to creating a stronger, single union, membership will have to be both earned and paid for. However the long term benefits will far outweigh what might amount to just “minor” inconveniences on the way to a new union card.

What will remain the same has nothing to do with ether union, but instead, has everything to do with a non-union actor’s goal of (eventually) joining the (new) union. Don’t rush it. I have been advising young and new-to-the-business actors of any age to focus their journeys on building resumes, not in rushing to join any union. The (new) union will be there when you are ready for it. But until then, it’s not about the membership card as much as it is about doing the work you need to do to get you to the point where union membership makes sense.

Until then, you better be sure to open your Business of Acting bank account (chapter 9 in The New Business of Acting) to begin to put aside the money you will need for your union initiation fees because one thing is for certain. When it’s time to join, what has been the past initiation fee for either union will for sure go up.


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