Thursday, June 09, 2011


An anonymous friend (or friends) states:

[I]f I opt out of the union, the major studios will not be 'allowed' to hire me. That's not really much of a choice. ... if you're non-union the bigger studios simply won't hire you. I call that 'trapped.' ...

From my point of view, it would certainly be delightful if this were true. Sadly, it's not true.

Here's the reality: If you don't like unions, you can elect to take "financial core," status, meaning that you "opt out" of union/guild membership, but pay those parts of dues and initiation fees that go to administering and enforcing contracts, negotiating contracts, etc. Costs of political activities by the union are excluded from fees or dues paid. (In our case, "financial core" TAG participants pay around 96% of fees, as we don't donate to many political causes.)

What does "financial core" status get you?

TAG wage floors, overtime rules, dismissal pay, and everything else covered by TAG contracts. Also all pension and health benefits.

What does it exclude you from?

Participating in union elections, holding union office, or having to follow union rules (like going out on strike.)

There have been assertions that nobody gets hired by union studios if they're not "in the union." Again, I wish to God it were true, but in my time in Local 839 -- thirty-five years -- I've seen loads of financial core people working for different studios. (At Disney in the 1980s, after the '82 strike, there was over a hundred.)

There are far fewer financial core status employees at Disney and elsewhere now than twenty years ago. Some f.c.s.ers have left the business, some have returned to the union fold, some are still financial core but have forgotten they opted out thirty years ago and now assume they are union members in good standing. They're not, but I don't bring up the subject with them very much. If they think their members, who am I to argue that it's otherwise?

There's enough non-unionism and "union hate" out there. I'm not going to add to it.


Chris Sobieniak said...

At least it adds to the opinions arguing for or against the whole thing.

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