I'm keeping my eye on the SAG AFTRA merger. First and foremost, it would create a better union name. Hopefully. But it could also have a big impact on my furture. Whether it goes through or not, things are changing. People no longer work just one portion of their field, they do everything to pay the bills. And have to join multiple unions to do so.
Unions are not at their best in the entertainment world. Having watched my dad's union do excellent work most of my life, it gives me a different look at the unions that are very possibly in my future if I keep at what I am doing.
My dad is a pilot for Southwest airlines. His union does well and handles things in a calm adult like manner. Which us funny considering it is a bunch of fly boys (man child dream job?). On the other hand, performers unions treat everything as a giant fight with the management. Yes, our management does tend to be more scatterbrained and less respectful, but does it have to be this hard? Can't we all discuss business like adults? Especially when it pertains to physical and mental safety.
Part of the problem with theatre is most theatres are non profits (non profits have no problem with screwing over employees because it is noble work for a good cause) or they are big buck operations trying to make the spectacle and the profits. Two things that don't go together. Just look at Spiderman. It's nigh impossible for them to make all that money back, yet they will continue a show that needs lots of work to make the profit. Chicago only needs a sixty percent capacity in the house to make money. Do they keep those numbers by putting on a damn good show? No. They keep them by giving Christie Brinkley her Broadway debut. It's just money. Is it better to screwed over and unemployed more often for more money when you do work, or to be working more in screwed up less money and safety situations?
We had a guest artist in a show when I was in college who was an equity member. Her general advice was to sit and wait for a while as young performers. Work non union cause it is pretty prevalent in todays world. Watch what is going g in both worlds and figured out if the time is right to take that union card. But when there was a dangerous platform against union code on the set, she got a railing. Working non union, we only got a lip after one of the producers took a dramatic and painful fall off of our unsafe platform.
It's a Catch-22. As I get ready to head back to New York, I am curious to see what happens next.
Favorite new names post merger:
It's probably a good thing I'm not involved. :-)
The Cradle Will Rock. What naive me wants union reform to be like. With Jerry Orbach. A great man who is missed! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaGnVyZa8iI&sns=em