How do I become a member of SAG-AFTRA?

We'll delve into what SAG-AFTRA is, its history, its significance, and how it benefits actors.

By: Taylor Fox February 13, 2024 Guides

For actors pursuing careers in film, television, radio, and other forms of media, understanding the role of unions is essential. Among the most prominent unions representing performers in the entertainment industry is SAG-AFTRA.

What is SAG-AFTRA?

SAG-AFTRA, short for the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, is a labor union representing over 160,000 actors, announcers, broadcasters, and other media professionals in the United States. Formed in 2012 through the merger of two longstanding unions, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), SAG-AFTRA is a powerful advocate for performers in the entertainment industry.

History of SAG-AFTRA

Both SAG and AFTRA have deep roots in the history of labor activism and advocacy for performers’ rights. SAG was founded in 1933 in response to the exploitation and mistreatment of actors in Hollywood, while AFTRA was established in 1937 to represent performers in radio broadcasting. Over the decades, both unions played pivotal roles in negotiating contracts, securing fair wages and working conditions, and protecting the rights and interests of their members.

In 2012, SAG and AFTRA merged to form SAG-AFTRA, consolidating their resources, membership, and bargaining power to serve better the needs of performers in the rapidly evolving media landscape. Today, SAG-AFTRA continues to uphold the legacy of its predecessors, advocating for performers’ rights, promoting diversity and inclusion, and fostering a supportive and equitable work environment for all members.

Benefits of SAG-AFTRA Membership

Joining SAG-AFTRA offers numerous benefits and protections for actors and other media professionals:

Contract Negotiation: SAG-AFTRA negotiates collective bargaining agreements with producers and employers to establish industry-wide standards for wages, working conditions, residuals, and other important aspects of employment. These contracts ensure that members receive fair compensation and benefits for their work.

Health and Pension Benefits: SAG-AFTRA provides health insurance, pension plans, and other retirement benefits to eligible members. These benefits help actors maintain their health and financial security throughout their careers and into retirement.

Protection of Rights: SAG-AFTRA advocates for performers’ rights in areas such as intellectual property, image usage, safety on set, and protection against harassment and discrimination. The union provides legal support and representation to members facing disputes or violations of their rights.

Professional Development: SAG-AFTRA offers a wide range of resources and programs to help members enhance their skills, expand their networks, and advance their careers. These include workshops, seminars, mentoring programs, and networking events tailored to actors at every stage of their career.

Industry Influence: As the largest labor union representing performers in the entertainment industry, SAG-AFTRA wields significant influence and leverage in shaping industry practices, policies, and regulations. By uniting and mobilizing its membership, the union advocates for positive change and advances the interests of performers on a national and global scale.

How do I become a member of SAG-AFTRA?

To become a member of SAG-AFTRA, actors must meet certain eligibility requirements, which typically include proof of employment in SAG-AFTRA-covered productions or sponsorship by an affiliated union. Once eligible, actors can apply for membership and pay initiation fees and dues to gain access to the full range of benefits and resources offered by the union.

SAG-AFTRA plays a vital role in advocating for the rights, interests, and well-being of actors and other media professionals in the entertainment industry. By joining SAG-AFTRA, actors gain access to a wide range of benefits, protections, and opportunities that can help them navigate the complexities of the industry and build successful and fulfilling careers.

Whether you’re a seasoned performer or an aspiring actor just starting out, understanding the importance of SAG-AFTRA and the benefits of union membership is essential for navigating the ever-changing landscape of the entertainment industry. By joining forces with fellow performers and supporting the work of SAG-AFTRA, actors can contribute to a stronger, more equitable, and more inclusive entertainment industry for generations to come.

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