Saturday, November 23, 2013

Rule One: Do Not Work Without a Union Contract

By Scott Mirne

Not long ago, a marketing agency, for which I do convention work asked me to work as an actor on a film. After I informed them that I’m a SAG-AFTRA member, I was told that the casting director had agreed to give me a union contract. Knowing that a film or other project is either union or non-union, and that individual performers cannot be individually given union status on a non-union project, I researched the film further, found out it was indeed non-union and declined the job.

As union members, we are bound and protected by Global Rule One, which prohibits us from working as performers on film, television, commercials and other projects which have not signed union contracts. On our behalf, SAG-AFTRA negotiates detailed contracts covering many types of media and usage. These contracts detail wages and working conditions pertaining to our employment and engagement as professional actors.

By working under Global Rule One, we can all help ensure that our union and contracts are respected, and that productions seeking professional performers will choose to “go union.”

Just as we have the professional and ethical obligation to abide by this rule, SAG-AFTRA also has the obligation to enforce Global Rule One, with regard to both union members and production companies and agencies. A member who violates this rule is subject to disciplinary action and possible revocation of union membership.

Below is from Scott, Art Lynch and the AFTRA-SAG Website...

Rule One states (not Global Rule One, which is an extension specific to outside the US): A member may not work without a union contract.

Beginning on May 1, 2002, SAG expanded its protections globally to better serve the needs of members in this rapidly changing, global entertainment economy and to ensure that the protections of the Guild follow our performers whereverthey may work. This was an extension of Rule One, which remains in effect.

Similarly, AFTRA’s No Contract/No Work Rule applies to all AFTRA members, regardless of category, in jurisdictions where there are multi-employer, industry-wide agreements—for example, commercials, non-broadcast, scripted television, and interactive – just like SAG’s Global Rule 1. The No Contract/ No Work Rule, however, does not automatically apply in jurisdictions where there are no multiple employer, industry-wide agreements. Organizing and negotiations in those areas must be done on a single employer, “shop-by-shop” basis. In those cases, for significant legal and practical reasons, AFTRA has not automatically applied the No Contract/No Work Rule unless there is an active organizing drive underway.

Global Rule One means that Rule One extends globally for SAG members. We may not do foreign films or work without a union contract anywhere in the world. Arrangements can be made though SAG-AFTRA. Global Rule One was a board action on the request of major celebrities to extend the full protection of the union whereever and whenever a union actor works.

Scott was writing about films with budgets that do not work with SAG for modified low budget, ultra low budget, student and other contracts that do allow talent to be signed on what is otherwise a non-union film as an actor (never as background). The pay is lower then full contract and and some cases as low as only putting required funds into your Pension and Health. It is a great way to protect your image, rights and to gain new "film" on yourself.

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