The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) is one of the largest labor union in the U.S. SAG was established in 1933. SAG represents principal performers and background performers from film, television, industrials, commercials, video games, music videos and other new media. This union represents over 120,000 members worldwide. SAG is headquartered in Los Angeles and affiliated to the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). SAG maintains its local branches in Phoenix, Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Nashville, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Detroit, Denver, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Seattle, Portland, Las Vegas, Honolulu, and San Francisco.
The mission of SAG is to represents its members through:
- Negotiation and enforcement of collective bargaining agreements that establish equitable levels of compensation, benefits, and working conditions for performers.
- The collection of compensation for exploitation of their recorded performances and protection against unauthorized use.
- The preservation and expansion of work opportunities.
SAG had an important role in the American labor movement. Initially SAG tried to eliminate exploitation of actors in Hollywood. Actors were often forced into unfair multi-year contracts with major movie studios excluding any restrictions on work hours or minimum rest periods. Moreover, some of these clauses were automatically renewed at the studios’ discretion. Such contracts literally dictated the public and private lives of the performers. To overcome this, Masquers Club was formed in 1925 by actors to fix the work hours at the Hollywood studios and later this led to the formation of the SAG.
There is an initial fee of $2235 for a local a member who joins SAG at Los Angeles, New York, or Miami. Membership dues are calculated on the basis of member’s earnings from SAG productions. However, the maximum dues payable by any single member is limited to $6,566.
SAG ensures different methods of protection for performers while entering into contracts with producers. The protection provisions include minimum rates of pay, first class airfare and travel insurance, adequate working conditions, strict safety requirements, special protection and education requirements for minors, arbitration of disputes and grievances, and affirmative action in auditions and hiring. It is mandatory that all SAG members should work only for those producers who have signed contracts with SAG. The terms of these contracts include the number of working hours, the frequency of meal breaks required, the minimum wages or scale of compensation for work, overtime pay, travel accommodations, wardrobe allowances, stunt pay, private dressing rooms, and adequate rest periods between performances. SAG offers Producers Pension and Health Plans for its performers who meet the eligibility criteria by working a certain number of days in its productions. SAG ensures residual payments to its members for broadcast and re-broadcast of films, television shows, and television commercials.