The sticky issue of initiation fees remains as volatile as ever.
We earlier noted the defeat of a motion to increase initiation fees outside of New York and Los Angeles at the May 19-20 board meeting. Now, almost two weeks after that board meeting, The Hollywood Reporter states that a second motion — unannounced in the press release following the board meeting — passed to reduce the initiation fee for broadcasters in Los Angeles and New York from $3,000 to $1,708, on an “interim” basis.
Prior to merger, the major-market initiation fee for SAG was $2,277, and the initiation fee for AFTRA was $1,600, meaning that dual cardholders would pay a total of $3,877 to join both unions. The merger agreement set a basic initiation fee of $3,000, which was less than the combined total but a significant jump from the AFTRA-only figure.
The new “interim” rate is $108 higher than the previous AFTRA fee.
This broadcaster reduction applies only to “single unit” employees in New York and Los Angeles — i.e., those who are employed full-time by a single company. The SAG-AFTRA initiation fees outside of New York and Los Angeles remain lower, as they had been prior to merger.
When we publicized the earlier motion there was a chorus of criticism about violating the sanctity of the boardroom. However, as we noted here, there is a need for openness and transparency in SAG-AFTRA activities. The fact that this interim initiation fee reduction was not even mentioned in any public announcement by SAG-AFTRA makes us wonder what else is being concealed from members inappropriately under a cloak of secrecy. We understand the need for confidentiality in matters involving personnel, member discipline, negotiating strategy, and the like. However, none of those considerations appear to be applicable to initiation fees.