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I joined SAG and AFTRA cheaply 35 years ago and now it costs a fortune. Ha Ha. Despite Producers clamoring for me non-stop I left the thrill of on-camera work and went into Production and Distribution in 1980 (and by “clamoring” I mean “couldn’t get arrested”). I went on “honorary withdrawal” from both Unions instead of just stop paying dues (like many short sighted former Actors do…not that I’d judge). Some of those folks try and rejoin years later and find they have decades of un-paid dues. When I rejoined recently it cost less than my cable bill. Ha Ha! I was smart and they were not! I’m boasting. Sorry.

Being a bad sport aside let’s talk about Union vs Non-Union Extras. Union members have to work a certain amount of days annually to earn excellent health benefits. Non-Union means no medical benefit options and they make half what we do. If you are looking for low man on the show biz totem pole you can trust they don’t look for the Union Label.

All Extras spend the entire day working together. On screen there is no difference. The Assistant Directors mix and match us on looks, not Union affiliation. Last week I was paired with a Non-Union “wife” as we shot a location scene walking arm-in-arm into a restaurant. Hearing her story and struggle to get into the Unions made me very grateful for the decision I made decades ago. At the end of the day a fellow SAG member referred to the Non-Union Extras snacking at the Craft Service table and as Locusts. I couldn’t muster a “Ha Ha.” But it was nice feeling superior.

One Response to “Union vs. Non-Union”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by iget2work (sue wolf). iget2work (sue wolf) said: John Starr Extra blog. Union vs. non-union […]

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