Voice actor Chris Edgerly is here once again today with the twenty-second video in the #VONotes series and in this episode, he’s talking about voice acting union vs. non-union work! The #VONotes series is a video series designed to answer common questions about the voice acting industry and each video contains some great tips and references for aspiring voice actors everywhere! If you missed the previous videos in the #VONotes series you can catch up on those here.
Voice Acting Union Vs. Non-Union Work #VONotes
Today on #VONotes I’m gonna talk about union vs. non-union work!
This is such a broad subject that I really can’t do it justice in just a couple of minutes, so I’m going to keep it fairly simple.
First, are you in a large market? If you are, I strongly suggest you do whatever you can to “go union” because there’s gonna be more jobs there. There’s also gonna be a union office that’s probably pretty strong, pretty well staffed, and can look out for you.
Union work offers you an umbrella of protection – that means that there are going to be certain working conditions that members have had input in determining, you’re gonna get paid by a certain time, and you’re gonna get paid a certain rate and no less. BUT I would also wanna say that if you’re busy working non-union and you’ve found an employer or a buyer or two and they’re giving you steady work, but they’re not interested in going union, it is all about doing what is best for you and your particular situation!
I spent ten years on the road as a stand-up comic and that was all non-union. They tried to create a union in standup and it ain’t happening! When you work non-union, it is up to you and your agent or manager if you have one, to basically hammer out the details of your gig and how and when you’re gonna get paid. Most of the time it works pretty smoothly, but there are always a few things that are up in the air and, boy, would I have loved to have had a union behind me especially someone that was going to fight to get me pension and health benefits! That’s something that you’re not going to get non-union. Another plus is – for better or for worse – it legitimizes you in the eyes of the industry and your peers!
When you are part of the SAG-AFTRA union, you are part of a pretty large group of well-trained and experienced actors. That DOESN’T mean that you’re not a legitimate talent if you’re non-union! It just means that being non-union is a lot more disparate. Everybody is a lot more spread out and there is no unifying body…hence the term “union” and “non-union”.
This is not to discount non-union work! One of the plusses of non-union is that you don’t need any training or experience. A lot of times people are just willing to hire whoever they can because they don’t have much of a budget and you need the experience! This is what I talk about in other videos as “the apprentice phase”! It’s a good way to get started!
Some non-union jobs might even pay a little bit better than union jobs! It all depends on what you’re able to negotiate. If you trust your ability to do that – go do your thing! You still might want to check out SAG-AFTRA’s website because they do detail the ways that you can get a production to go union without too much paperwork and without it costing too much! And it IS well worth it! It’s certainly been worth it in my experience!
Hope this has answered some questions, if you have any more, put them in the comments section below and hit that subscribe button so you can see more #VONotes as I make them!