Welcome to our first #WordyWednesday of August! Today, we’re talking about unions (AEA, SAG, FICORE, ASDFGHJKL) and clarifying all of the different acronyms that come up whenever someone says “dues”…

  • SAG-AFTRA (aka “SAG” or “the union” in LA)
    SAG-AFTRA is the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Why the long name? It’s because the two unions, both founded in the 1930s, merged in 2012 to create the current union. It represents about 160,000 actors and other professionals in the film and television industries. Because it is a union meant to protect its members, SAG has pre-set agreements with productions on actor’s payments, working conditions and hours.
    The “ELIG” in SAG-ELIG is short for eligible, as in eligible for membership in the union. There are a few ways to join SAG: the first is to land a principal role in a SAG production and receive a Taft-Hartley voucher noting your eligibility for the union. Another way to join is by getting 3 background roles and the corresponding 3 background Taft-Hartley vouchers. After you receive 3 background vouchers, or 1 principal voucher, you become a “Must-Join” or “Must-Pay” (your dues!) and you cannot work another union job until you join. When to join the union can be a tricky topic for some actors; it’s best to do some self-reflection and research before deciding to join.
  • AEA (aka “Actors’ Equity” or just “Equity”)
    AEA is the Actors’ Equity Association, representing actors and personnel in the world of theatre (though not vaudeville, cabaret, etc.: that’s the American Guild of Variety Artists, AGVA). Equity has over 40,000 members across the United States (no, not just on Broadway!). The joining process in AEA is a points system (an actor must accrue points over a span of time to qualify) or obtaining a role under an AEA contract.
    Fun fact: AEA is a sister union of SAG-AFTRA, so a full-fledged Equity member who has been part of AEA for more than a year can join SAG-AFTRA based on their AEA experience.
    is short for “financial core“. It is not a union– it is a status that allows an actor to pay some union dues and work as a union actor on union projects, but because they do not pay full union dues and are not full members, they can also work on non-union projects with no penalty from the union.
    Being NON-UNION simply means that you are not part of SAG-AFTRA or AEA.

That’s it for this week’s Wordy Wednesday! See you next week!