Should I join a union? Why or why not?

Comparing Freelance and Union Work

Union Work

Often perceived as a sign of professional status, being accepted into an entertainment union is like the holy grail of achievement for some voice talent. Union jobs also tend to pay nearly twice as much as non-union work. Unions help out with retirement planning and provide medical coverage for the talent and their dependents. The union will act as Accounts Receivable so talent never have to chase down a payment and some will even act legally on the talent's behalf, should the need ever arise.

Signs that you may be ready to join a union:

  • You have an established business.
  • You have agency representation.
  • You are landing union jobs and or have signed a Taft-Hartley.
  • You have a Must Join status.
  • You are prepared to turn down non-union work.
  • You are prepared to adjust how much you charge to align with union scale.
  • You are confident that you can convince some of your current clients to work with you under union contracts.
  • You believe that the amount of work you get as a union talent will more than compensate for the income you'll lose from not taking freelance jobs.

Freelance Work

There are many successful voice talent making an excellent living exclusively performing non-union work. A freelance talent doesn't receive the benefits of the union such as insurance or retirement planning. Freelance talent save money on annual fees and can still record diverse work. There are a number of reasons a talent may not 'go union' even if they qualify, including:
  • Access to different work opportunities.
  • You decide how much to charge.
  • You don't have to pay annual dues.
  • You don't have to pay initiation fees.
If you're only looking to moonlight in voice-overs or enjoy certain freedoms in your work, you might decide to continue on as a freelance voice over talent. On the other hand, joining the union could be an attractive option to help you meet your career goals and it can be helpful if you or a family member requires regular medical care. If medical care or insurance is of specific interest to you, talk to a union representative first to find out what it takes to qualify for those benefits.

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Article Number
First Published
08/31/2020 09:12
Last Modified
08/31/2020 09:13
Career Advice (Talent)
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