Read about joining SAG on Wikipedia…
“For years, SAG had the "three voucher rule". After collecting 3 valid union vouchers for three separate days of work, a background performer (an extra) can become SAG-Eligible; however, employment must be confirmed with payroll data not vouchers. SAG productions require a minimum number of SAG members be employed as background performers before a producer is permitted to hire a non-union background performer in their production. For television productions, the minimum number of SAG background performers is 19, for commercials the minimum is 40, and for feature films, the minimum is 50. Often, due to the uniqueness of a role, or constraints on the numbers of available SAG performers or last-minute cancellations, those minimums are unable to be met. When this happens, producers are permitted to fill one or more of those union spots with non-union performers. The non-union performer chosen to fill the union spot is then issued a union extra voucher for the day, and that non-union performer is entitled to all the same benefits and pay that the union performer would have received under that voucher. The SAG-Eligible background performer may continue working in non-union productions and is not required to join the Guild before performing in another SAG production as a background performer.”
“Performers are eligible to join Screen Actors Guild after working on a SAG film in a principal role, gaining "Taft Hartley" status 15 days after the first day of work - or meeting background entry requirements.”
“A performer becomes eligible for Screen Actors Guild membership under one of the following two conditions: (1) proof of SAG employment or (2) employment under an affiliated performers’ union.
1. Proof of Employment
1. Principal Performer Employment
Performers may join SAG upon proof of employment. Employment must be in a principal or speaking role in a SAG film, videotape, television program or commercial. Proof of such employment may be in the form of a signed contract, or original pay stubs. The document proving employment must provide the following information:
- applicant’s name
- applicant’s Social Security number
- name of the production or name of the commercial (product name)
- the salary paid (in dollar amount)
- the specific date(s) worked.
2. Background Actors may join SAG upon proof of employment as a SAG–covered background player at full SAG rates and conditions for a MINIMUM of three work days subsequent to March 25, 1990. Employment must be by a company signed to a SAG Agreement under which the Producer is required to cover background actors. Proof of employment must be in the form of original paystubs or a payroll printout faxed from the payroll house. Such documents must provide the same information (name, Social Security number, etc.) as listed above.
2. Employment Under an Affiliated Performers' Union
Performers may join SAG if the applicant is a paid-up member of an affiliated performers' union (ACTRA, AEA, AFTRA, AGMA or AGVA) for a period of one year and has worked and been paid for at least once as a principal performer in that union’s jurisdiction.
How do I join?
Legitimacy of Application
· Your application and proof of employment will be fully investigated by the Guild for validity. Your application for SAG membership will be denied if you have falsified your credentials, or if your qualifying employment is not bona fide.
· While it is your responsibility to ascertain the validity of your qualifying employment, the Guild will be the sole arbiter in determining whether the employer was legitimate or bogus, and whether the qualifying employment which you performed was actual production work or work created solely to enable you to gain Guild membership. Please be aware that false representation or deception on your part will jeopardize your chances to join the Guild.
· Further, if after your application has been granted the Guild discovers such misconduct on your part, you may find yourself subject to disciplinary proceedings, which could result in your being fined, suspended and/or expelled from the Guild.
Appointments for Admission
If you are eligible under the conditions stated above, please contact your nearest SAG office BEFORE COMING IN so we can advise you of the amount of your joining fee and arrange an appointment.
Submitting Proof of SAG Eligibility
You may contact the Guild about your eligibility status. If your file is not on record or incomplete, you may submit one of the following documents as proof of eligibility:
· Original paycheck stubs.
· Original activity print-out or report from the payroll company that states your name, social security number, the name of the production company, the title of the production, the salary paid in dollar amount, and the specific date(s) worked. The payroll company must submit this document directly to the SAG Membership Services Department.
Background vouchers and copies of paycheck stubs are not acceptable as proof of work. Submitting these types of documents will only delay verifying your Screen Actors guild eligibility.
If you provide the Guild with your original paycheck stubs, please make copies for your records before submitting them to our office.
In addition to enclosing proper eligibility documentation, you will need to include a separate piece of paper with your name, current address, current telephone number, and date of birth. A self-addressed stamped envelope must also be included so that we may return your documents to you. We ask that you print clearly to avoid input errors. Once verification is completed, you will receive a letter of eligibility from the Guild.
· To join SAG, a performer must pay an initiation fee of $2,277, plus the first semi-annual basic dues payment of $58. Thus, the total fee to join is $2,335.
· Fees may be lower if you join or work in a branch area other than Hollywood. However, if you subsequently work in an area whose governing branch charged a higher initiation fee the year that you joined than you initially paid, you must pay the difference to the new branch.
· All joining fees are payable in full, in cashier's check, money order, Visa or Mastercard at the time of application. NO PERSONAL CHECKS are accepted for joining fees."
You can read about the Taft Hartley act here:
What follows is Taft Hartley’s effect on the entertainment industry, even though no footnotes are present in the paragraph (which is taken from the same article).
“The term Taft-Hartley has a special meaning in the entertainment industry. Specifically, for film and television actors, an actor not in the union who becomes a "principal performer" (says a line) is immediately eligible to join the Screen Actors Guild and is covered under the SAG contract with the production company for 30 days, at which point he or she must either join SAG or cease working on any union productions. Once joining the union, the actor may not work on any non-union production, per the terms of the bylaws. This allows SAG to get around the rules forbidding closed shops by providing a mechanism for new members to join the union.”
So, Kade, just because you THINK you're a celebrity and a big-name, big-shot actor DOES NOT MEAN YOU ACTUALLY ARE. The proof is in the paperwork, dickwad.
Also, you owe the IRS $1,168.21 (as of April 29th, 2009); joining the union costs $2,335! What's more important here? Think about it, Kadester: the entertainment industry isn't exactly beating down your door to get the apparent "greatness" that is you to join, but the IRS WILL beat down your door...and you! Don't believe me? That's fine, don't!
(Additional information and/or dissenting voices are encouraged to comment below.)