The comments are coming thick 'n' fast on the topic of Unions and Fi-Core (financial core), over on the Yahoo VO Forum.
Yesterday, I posted a digest on this blog of the salient points this far, but apparently a lot more people had a lot more to say!
Here, then, the continuation of the thread:
To survive, and be truly effective, a union depends on solidarity. On
the flip side, a union needs to have true reach, and make sure their
members are seen as a truly valuable resource.
If we're honest about things…I'm not sure either currently exists
within our union community. I'm not sure the union has ever truly
reacted to the onslaught of non-union work, nor has union talent ever
pushed back against it…as unions should.
The facts of life are – the ONLY thing we can count on is CHANGE! The reason unions have been losing ground in this country is that they haven't been willing to face reality, change and basic economics 101.
The ongoing discussion of ficore should perhaps focus on the plight of freelance VO people with home studios. It's not that we want to undercut the fee scale of union work, we just want to work, period. Much of the work that we rustle up comes from producers/clients who for myriad reasons aren't signatory to union contracts. Much of this work pays very very well. As it stands, SOMEONE needs to be signatory to the contract in order to be legit. In order to "make it union" we can employ the use of a signatory paymaster as an intermediary. They handle the billing. Swell. Once it all trickles down, though, we lose so much money in this effort to "make it union" that it is suicidal. Must we pay and pay and pay for the privilege to work?
As far as I can tell, the union does nothing to help its members get
work. It's nice that they negotiate those nice scale rates and
benefits, but if you're not booking union work, that contract means
nothing. The bottom line is, there are no benefits (unless you're one
of the lucky few who books enough union work to meet the minimum annual
income levels) and no help getting work. Where's the incentive to join
Not sure if it has been mentioned, but Fi Core has been around now for 40+ years…nothing new. It was a move by the Supreme Court to constitutionally uphold a person's right to earn a living, regardless
of their union status. The only ace in the hole that carries any weight at this point is that by opening the talent pool and hiring non SAG/AFTRA people, clients are putting themselves in danger of seriously watering down their projects.
Financial Core actors ARE eligible for benefits..both medical coverage and pension. You lose: Subscriptions to SAG/AFTRA periodicals..Voting.Running for office.participation in union run seminars..and meetings.
I'm in the NYC market and so far have beem making a fine living doing non-union work. Sure, residuals would be great! Sure I'd like to get some Union work and have been up for some and may "must-join" sometime on the future…BUT so far I have not had, nor felt, the need to do so.
I have heard MANY AFTRA MEMBERS that I would NEVER hire for
ANYTHING…I have THREE demos laying here right now with their
AFTRA/SAG #s, right on them…and the demos aren't good or up to date
and neither is the talent. Let's not forget the requirements to BECOME
an AFTRA member.
I don't have a solution to these problems. I just observe that the system is in trouble.
The reason certain kinds of organizations don't want their members to know what's going on is that they have something to hide – and I'll wager there is a lot more money being made by the unions off the dues of their members then the profits made by the producers who hire the union members. When push comes to shove, I have to look out for #1 and if I need money to pay the bills and put food on the table for my family – I'll do what I have to do union, non-union, whatever. Hunger and welfare of one's family trumps any loyalty to a union that essentially provides nothing but rhetoric and negotiates fees that may, at some point become invalid anyway – AND takes money out of your pockets whether you are earning any or not, no thanks to them. The bottom line is the bottom line – and each of us has the personal choice to determine where that bottom line is for ourselves.
Well said everyone! This is the sort of give 'n' take that makes our country great (yes, still great).