Union Rules

There are several unions which govern the employment of child actors. The following is summary information for each of the major unions. Be sure to contact them directly for additional info.

As of March 30th, 2012 the unions, SAG and AFTRA merged creating the nation’s largest labor union representing working actors with nearly 160,000 members, thousands of whom are children. Together SAG-AFTRA now has exclusive jurisdiction over principal and extra performers (actors), singers, dancers, DJs, news announcers, voice-over artists, stunt performers, and more appearing in feature films, television broadcasts, commercials, radio, and other types of productions such as industrial/education videos, interactive video and new media.

SAG-AFTRA has three basic master agreements that spell out the responsibilities of producers hiring minors depending on project type (feature film, television, or commercial) and union signatory. Although the unions have merged, the contracts have not yet been modified and are due for renegotiation in early 2014. The rules vary slightly and you are encouraged to call the Union if you are unsure which contract your production is working under.

Feature Films & SAG Television – The rules for employing minors in a SAG-AFTRA theatrical motion picture or television production can be found in Section 50 (A-N) of the 2005 Codified Basic Agreement. Click here for a copy

Click Here for a summary of SAG Rules A-Z

AFTRA Television – The rules for employing minors in a SAG-AFTRA television production can be found in Paragraph 100 of the 2007-2010 AFTRA Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting.  Click here for a copy

SAG Commercials – The rules for employing minors in SAG-AFTRA commercials can be found in Section AA of the 2003 Commercial Contract.  Click here for a copy

How do I join the Union?

You must first become ‘eligible’ under one of the following conditions:

  1. Book 1 principal (speaking) role in a SAG-AFTRA production OR
  2. Book 3 background (extra) roles in a SAG-AFTRA  production OR
  3. Hold 1 year membership in an affiliated performer Union:

You must have worked and been paid for
at least one principal (speaking) role.

Must Join  If you become eligible to join SAG-AFTRA (a.k.a. SAG Eligible) through principal or background work, you become what is called a “must join” meaning you must join the union if you want to work a SAG-AFTRA job again in the future.

Proof of Eligibility If you have become eligible to join under one of the conditions listed above, you should contact your nearest SAG-AFTRA locals office so they can advise you of your eligibility and the amount of your initiation fees. If your file is not on record or incomplete, you should be prepared to submit your original paycheck stubs.  Copies are not acceptable as proof of employment.

Dues & Initiation Fees Member dues are based on a sliding scale with the amount due determined by earnings.  Each member pays an annual base of $198.00, plus 1.575% of all earnings between $1.00 and $500,000.   Dues are calculated annually and paid in two installments, due May 1st and November 1st.

New member initiation fees vary from state to state, and can be costly, so you might want to have the money put aside, just in case.  If you are resident of Los Angeles, be prepared to pay $3,000 in initiation fees, plus $99 for the first semi-annual basic dues ($3,099.00 total).   Remember, if you are a “must join” you must pay those dues before you will be allowed to work on a future SAG project.

If you have a job pending but simply do not have the cash on hand to join the union when it’s needed, a SAG-AFTRA Initiation Fee Loan is available from the AFTRA-SAG Federal Credit Union.  Members of Children In Film are automatically eligible to join this credit union.

For More Information: SAG Main Switchboard – 323.954.1600
SAG Child Actor Hotline – 323.549.6030
Click here for SAG Young Performers Information

Founded in 1913, “Equity” or “AEA,” as it is commonly known is a labor union that represents more than 49,000 actors and stage managers, directors and coreographers in the United States. AEA has jurisdiction over live stage (theatre) and “live” industrial productions.

You are eligible to join AEA by virtue of employment under an Equity contract.  Your application for membership is only valid during the term of your employment contract.  You are also eligible to join if you have been a member of a sister union for at least one year and have worked as a performer under the union as a principal or background actor.

As of August, 2013, member Initiation fees were at $1,100.  Ongoing member dues of $118 per year plus 2.25% of gross earnings are also collected.

AEA has more than 30 national and regional contracts and the rules for employing minors in an AEA production vary depending on the contract which you are working under.  Generally speaking, AEA refers back to the prevailing law in any State where a minor might be employed.

For a list of AEA rule books click here

For More Information:
National Headquarters
TEL: 212-869-8530
FAX: 212-719-9815

ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) is the union of more than 22,000 professional performers working in English-language recorded media in Canada including TV, film, radio and digital media.

ACTRA has 10 Canadian national collective agreements and regional, specialized agreements covering film, TV, radio, digital media and videogame productions. Click here to learn more.

Actra has 9 autonomous branches accross Canada.  Click here to find the branch closest to you.

ACTRA National
625 Church Street, 3rd floor,
Toronto, Ontario M4Y 2G1