From The BizParentz Foundation
For more info, check the SAG website here: http://www.sagaftra.org/join
“Taft Hartley” refers to a federal law passed in 1947. It is not exclusive to SAG, but was written to encourage free employment, the idea that anyone could get a job, not just union members. In SAG, when you are “Taft-Hartleyed” it means that a Casting Director chose to hire you, a non-union person, for a principal job on their union project. They have to file a short form explaining to the union why they didn’t hire one of the 120,000 union members. In other words, they have to make an excuse. Theoretically, if they excuse is not good enough, SAG can fine them (the fine is about $500). For kids, fines are rarely imposed. Once a CD does this, and hires you for the job, your 30 day “Taft Hartley period” starts. During that 30 days, you can work as many jobs, union or non-union as you can get in, without having to join. At the end of 30 days, you must join SAG if you want to continue working union jobs. Occasionally, SAG has been known to extend this 30 day period and clear actors for additional SAG work. This is called an “OK30” (as in..they are OK’d for another 30 days). You can’t count on this though, so make sure you have your initiation fee ready once you get into the “Taft-Hartley” zone.
How to Join
If you are SAG Eligible (otherwise known as “SAGe”) that means that you have already met the requirements to join but have not yet paid the dues. Many children use this SAGe status as the “golden time” when they can easily be cast in SAG projects, but they can also do non-union work to build up their resume.
“Must Join” is slang for the idea that you can’t do any more SAG work without joining. Meaning, you’ve already met the requirements for membership, and your 30 day Taft-Hartley period is over (see above) The next SAG job you are offered will require a quick payment to SAG.
Responsibilities of Membership:
“Global Rule One” SAG is a tight ship. The number one rule of union membership, and it is printed on your membership card, is that YOU MAY NOT DO NON-UNION WORK. Ever. There are no exceptions to this, so make sure that when you join, you are committed to the organization and ready to leave the non-union world behind.
How to Leave
Kids grow up and do other things! There are two ways to leave the union, and they are available for very different purposes:
Honorary Withdrawal: This is for actors who are no longer seeking work, such as a child actor who is leaving to go to college. This is a perfectly acceptable, HONORABLE way to leave the union. You will no longer need to pay the base dues, but you will owe them on residuals you receive. To do this, you simply write a letter to SAG requesting honorary withdrawal status. If you want to re-join at a later date, it’s no problem.
Financial Core: This is a very anti-union action and you need to understand the weight of this decision. For more on Financial Core, please click here.
WARNING: if you child decides to leave the business, do NOT just stop paying SAG dues. If your child ever wants to pursue acting again, you are setting them up for a big bill since they may have to pay initiation fees all over again! Do it the right way…it’s just a letter to request Honorary Withdrawal status.