Pension and health benefits are essential for most actors to establish and maintain a career. But with much of our work divided between SAG and AFTRA, many of us are caught in an awful predicament: We work under both unions’ contracts, but because our employer contributions are split, we fail to qualify for benefits under either union’s plan. It’s a growing problem that leaves working performers exposed to potentially devastating medical costs.
With that in mind, it’s tempting to view the effort to unite SAG and AFTRA primarily as a means of solving problems that come from divided earnings. Even though forming one union is the most effective step we can take to address those issues, viewing it through that prism alone can distract from the real reason SAG and AFTRA must merge: bargaining strength.