Owing to the recent SAG/AFTRA merger, new issues have arisen that have caused concern for many Core actors. If you exercised your Fi-Core rights prior to the merger in 2012, you may have one or more of the following questions:
I was Fi-Core before the SAG/AFTRA merger, has that affected my status?
When SAG and AFTRA merged in 2012, they essentially created a new union. Members of either union at the time of the merger were automatically granted membership in the new union at no cost and with no change to their status. A member in good standing of SAG or AFTRA now belonged to SAG-AFTRA and of course, there were thousands of members in good standing of both unions who were simply combined under the new “One Union” banner.
Now, if you were on Fi-Core status with SAG at the time of the merger but not a member of AFTRA, you would have transferred to the new union as a Fi-Core member. Nothing would have changed. The same is true if you were FC with AFTRA but not a member of SAG.
However, if you were Fi-Core with SAG and a member in good standing with AFTRA at the time of the merger, the new union would have honored your membership in AFTRA and simply dismissed your inferior FC SAG membership, thus rendering you a member in good standing with the newly created SAG-AFTRA.
The Union apparently chose not to inform FPNMs that this could happen.
If this was your situation, you probably noticed SAG-AFTRA sent you a new card after your first post-merger dues payment. (You probably didn’t notice your bi-annual dues increased because the discount for Fi-Core is only about 5%) You may also have started receiving SAG Award screeners in the mail as well as voting materials and e-mails informing you of all the upcoming SAG-AFTRA events and meetings. You may have thought, “Wait a minute! I’m Fi-Core, why are they sending me member’s-only stuff?” Well, that’s why.
You might have thought you were the lucky beneficiary of a glitch in the system that put you back on the mailing lists without changing your status. You may have thought the screeners were to lure you back to full-status. You may have thought that perhaps after the merger they decided to be nicer to FPNMs and reinstate some of their perks. Fat chance.
If your membership reverted to full-union status after the merger and you didn’t want to give up your Fi-Core rights, you have to do it all over again.
Is that even legal for them to change my Fi-Core status without notifying me?
It seems SAG-AFTRA would have a legal leg to stand on if you were in good standing with one union and considered a “non-member” of the other. However, it seems more than a little dubious of them not to notify Fi-Core members in writing to inform them that their status could revert to full membership.
What if I took a non-union gig after the merger not knowing I was changed back?
I know an actress who continued taking non-Union gigs for years after the merger before realizing what had happened. As an FPNM, she wasn’t receiving mail from SAG and was therefore unaware of the progress of the merger or how it might affect her. She made the assumption that the screeners and e-mails she began receiving were just a post-merger campaign to tempt FPNMs into giving up Fi-Core. If your FC status was reneged and you took a gig or two since the merger, the best course of action is probably to request your status be reinstated and explain that since they did not inform you in writing, you took a non-union job unaware of their choice to put you back in good-standing. I imagine they would have a hard time legally penalizing you if you received no formal notice. However, the longer you wait to reclaim your Fi-Core rights, the less legitimacy you may have to continue claiming ignorance about the switch.
Can they tell you that you already burned your Fi-Core card and you can’t go back to it after re-joining the Union?
First, you did not request to be returned to full-member status by board review, it was their doing. They were the ones who made the choice not to continue your FC status after the merger. Second, you may have gone Core with SAG or AFTRA but never with SAG-AFTRA. It’s a new union now, so technically, you’ve never exercised your Fi-Core right with them before.