By now it is common knowledge that SAG (Screen Actors Guild) and AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) have approved the merger contract with overwhelming numbers.
Now, many non-union actors are scrupulously considering their option to become a part of this new SAG-AFTRA union or hold out.
ANY non-union actor can walk into the AFTRA office and join the union since it is an open union. You can even do it online from the comfort of your computer chair. AND if the merger happens, anybody in good standings with either union will become a part of the new SAG-AFTRA giant union, with no additional fees.
SO, the question many non-union actors are vigorously contemplating is, “should I join AFTRA before the potential merger and save some bucks?” The common pros and cons are all the same. But first, here are the financial details. Joining AFTRA is $1600.
Joining SAG is about $2400 and requires three SAG vouchers, which many extras know all to well already. The new SAG-AFTRA union will be $3000 to join and the new fees will be $198 yearly. About $100 every 6 months. So it is quite obvious that joining AFTRA now and being grandfathered in to the new union is the cheapest way to go. So why isn’t everybody running to the AFTRA building?
Common fears are obvious; what if the merger falls through. Though the higher ups approved the merger in a landslide, there is still a vote to the members of each union and both unions must vote ABOVE 60 percent approval rating. Voting starts in the next week and the merger is decided just before March.
In 2003 there was a vote set forth just like this to merge the unions, and although AFTRA member voted well over the 60 percent, SAG members just missed it at about 58 percent. Many believe the merger is VERY likely this time around, but nothing is certain. However, the worst thing that can happen to you if the merger fails and you just joined AFTRA, is that you remain only a member of AFTRA. Which isn’t such a bad thing.
To answer most concerns about joining or not, I feel the best thing to consider is this: How serious are you about your career? If you know you want to pursue this career choice for a LONG time and are willing to invest in yourself, this is a GREAT time to join.
Additionally, if after the merger happens you scrape up the money to pay the $3000 fee for SAG-AFTRA, three vouchers under the new SAG-AFTRA union will still be require to join. The same method the current SAG union uses.
There isn’t too much more information pertinent to the merge to disclose. You can even read the merger document on either the SAG or AFTRA websites. Now it is a choice to be made individual. It affects your life, career and finances, so it isn’t something to take lightly.
As far as the current outlook on the merger from each union’s elected advisors, the consensus seems quite obvious. After sitting in a meeting with the Vice President of SAG, the Treasurer of AFTRA and other members of the board, it is obvious that they want this merger to happen, and mainly for the same reason. In a nutshell, it seems all the arguments come down to one main goal; to unite two teams that previously were places against each other to GREATLY increase there bargaining stance for every member of the union.
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