Monday, December 28, 2009

SAG, Unions and Financial Core

Apparently the Screen Actors Guild has been educating aspiring actors about the downside of not joining the Guild when they start getting industry jobs.

... A skirmish broke out last week over thesps being persuaded to quit the Screen Actors Guild.

SAG First VP Anne-Marie Johnson and several board members ... leafleted outside a class conducted on the technique of filing for "financial core" status at the Hey, I Saw Your Commercial workshop studios in Los Angeles.

"We felt it was important to make sure that people attending the class get all the information about taking that step," Johnson told Daily Variety. "It's not something that we can ignore." ...

And what exactly is "that step?" Just this.

Members who go "fi-core" resign their SAG membership and withhold the dues spent by SAG on political activities but can still work on union jobs ...

The Supreme Court ruled some years ago that nobody had to be a member of a union against their will, but did have to pay those portion of dues that unions used to administer and police the contracts under which those persons worked. (Again, the dues excluded are for icky political stuff. In TAG's case, that amount to 4% of total dues.)

So what's the advantage to resigning and going financial core? You don't have to go on strike.

What's the disadvantage? You can't run for union office, you can't vote, and you might be damaging yourself politically with union members who think unionism is a good thing.

But everyone makes up their own mind.

Despite SAG's efforts, a total of nearly 2,000 actors have filed for financial core status, according to SAG's most recent filing with the federal government.

To be specific, 1,894 SAG members have resigned and gone fi core out of a total membership of 128,187. That's 1.47%.

Back in 1982, TAG had a bunch of members resign from this union and take financial core status. For most, it was done so they could legally return to work near the end of a ten-week strike. Since then, there have been a handful of people who have resigned membership for one reason or another.

I've never had a problem with people taking financial core status. I wouldn't do it myself, since I'm one of those lefties who believe in collective bargaining, collective action, and E Pluribus Unum. But I also believe in people knowing what their rights are (which is why I'm writing this.) And if somebody believes resigning from union membership is right for them, hey, go for it. There have even been a few times in the course of my illustrious union rep career when I've asked people to go financial core, just to get them out of what's left of my hair.

They've always refused.

The interesting thing is, over the last several years, we've had more financial core non-members wanting to come back to full membership than the other way around. 1982 is a long time ago, and few people believe that the fine conglomerates for which they work is actually in their corner.


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