It’s really shocking to realize that my term as a delegate with SAG-AFTRA is already more than halfway over. Even though this isn’t the most involved position as an elected union member, I’ve tried to be as involved as I can. I really loved my time at the National Convention and I’ve been trying to find that in as many aspects of my union participation as I can. While it can be tough to be involved while balancing as many day jobs as I can, I try to find the time or at least stay informed on what’s happening.
We’ve had some really awesome stuff happening in our union lately. In case you aren’t a union member (or are but aren’t aware of these things), one of the biggest things the union has been working on since SAG and AFTRA merged was the merging of the healthcare plans. Split earnings was such a huge issue, and it was announced this summer that starting on January 1st 2017, the plans will be merged and split earning will be a thing of the past! I’m not eligible for the healthcare yet, but I know how big of a deal this is for my fellow actors and hopefully in the future I can take advantage of it.
Another big thing that’s been happening lately is a bill that we are trying to pass that helps to reduce the age discrimination that happens with actors (and other industry professional). Some industry websites post the birth dates of people on it, and while that doesn’t seem like a big deal to most people it really can cause people not to book a job. If someone is in their late 20’s but looks like a teenager, they shouldn’t automatically be eliminated from consideration because of their age. No other job allows your employer to see your age before considering you, so I don’t see why acting should be any different. This bill hasn’t passed yet, so if you are in CA and want to see age discrimination reduced in industry jobs, you can fax in your support of the bill passing (and you can fax for free from your email!).
And we’ve got our upcoming contract negotiations happening with our TV and theatrical contracts. I’m not a part of the negotiation committee, but that doesn’t mean that I (or any union actor) can’t be involved in this process. We’ve got our wages and working conditions meetings happening now and we will continue to have them for a while leading up to the negotiations. I think every single SAG-AFTRA actor needs to attend these to share their experiences and to learn from others. It’s so important to know what is happening and what issues are going on so you can learn as well. I’m excited to attend some in the future when I know I will have a bit more free time between day jobs.
These things are things that have just been announced recently, but have been in the works for a very long time. The age discrimination issue has been in the works with SAG-AFTRA for 8 years and they finally got it to the Governor just recently. While I think all of us would love to things to change faster than they do, it just shows how dedicated everyone is in the union and how we can make changes if we try hard.
Since I’m seeing the results of long-term dedication to SAG-AFTRA, I’ve started to think about our election that will be coming up next year. I have no question in my mind that I will be running for a delegate position again. This has been such a great thing for me as an actor and I only wish I had done this sooner! I wish I’ve been more involved this past year, but I know that the day jobs had to take priority until I got a bit of stability happening. Now that that’s more normal, I can focus more on my acting career and union.
But I’m not totally sure that I’m fine with just being a delegate again. I’m seriously considering running for the local board so that I can be even more involved in what is happening in my union in my local area. This will be more responsibility, but I think that I can handle it and really do some great things. I’ve got some time before I have to decide what positions I’m running for, but I’m really leaning toward being both a delegate and local board member.
I’m so happy that about 2 years ago a friend of mine encouraged me to run for a delegate position. I love all the people who I’ve met through Unite For Strength and the various union events. I’ve never felt more connected as a member and I can’t want to make that connection even stronger through the years.