Going Fi-Core is not all lollipops and fluffy bunnies. There are serious drawbacks. Most notably, you become a “non-member" in SAG-AFTRA's estimation. Technically, they categorize you as a Fee Paying Non-Member (FPNM).But since you still pay your dues, have a valid performer number, retain your benefits and are represented in all collective bargaining activities, this is not an accurate designation, in my opinion. What you really become is a second-class member, as you have your rights within the Union limited to only the most basic representation.
Some of the rights you lose when you declare Fi-Core are: the right to vote in SAG-AFTRA elections, the right to hold office in the Union, the right to use iActor (a SAG web service), the right to participate in Union events such as workshops, networking events and screenings. You will no longer receive screeners of SAG Award nominated films or vote for nominees (although you can be nominated, you cannot attend the event), you will no longer receive a SAG-AFTRA card (your most recent dues receipt becomes your proof of current representation) and you will not be able to re-join the Guild without a formal hearing and applicable penalties.
Another significant disadvantage is the contempt SAG-AFTRA itself has for Fi-Core. The Union makes clear to members that exercising this right, in their view, is akin to career suicide.
Does SAG-AFTRA use scare tactics to discourage actors from making that choice?
If you decide to go Fi-Core, once you declare, you may receive a phone call from a SAG-AFTRA representative who will try to dissuade you from taking that course. They actually have a person at each district office whose only job is to address the Fi-Core option and keep members from taking it. Many FC converts report that SAG-AFTRA reps purposely exaggerate the negative consequences to their acting careers and use threatening language to underscore the dire ramifications of going against the Union.
Personally, I wouldn't go so far as to say they "exaggerate" or "threaten". But certainly, they paint a very one-sided picture for people who are interested in exercising this right. Next, I want to address the arguments against FC from the SAG-AFTRA website as well as from word of mouth, and explain how they are true... and how some of them may be misleading.
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