Common questions we are asked everyday at Realtime Casting about working with agents and Unions
When we speak to voice talent and explain that we are working with agents and unions Realtime Casting, usually the same questions come to mind for the talent. The most common question we get asked after explaining that we work with only Union work and agents is:
- “But what if I don’t have an agent or belong to a Union?”
The most common rebuttal to our answer that explains how to use Realtime Casting, by selecting Lotas Productions, is usually:
- “OK then…If I book work, does that mean I HAVE TO join a Union?”
Getting this out of the way
First things first, and this is important to get out of the way: A voice talent is in control of their own voiceover career. There will always be people trying to sell you their beliefs or curtail the ambitious nature of a voice actor. The teachings out there that state, “You HAVE TO join a casting site to get work.” or “You HAVE TO avoid casting sites because they are unprofessional.” are done because the business is letting you know where they stand.
However, if you make business decisions based on powerful emotional statements, your career will forever be dictated by the most emotional opinion. This is important to get out of the way because no one person can be forced to do anything they do not want to, but the person has to be smart enough to understand the consequences of certain business choices, and do so the smart way.
If you decide, “I only want to be non-union and never have an agent”, this is a business choice. This choice may alienate you from doing certain work. True for the opposite, if you only want to do union work and have made joining a union a career goal, at some point you will be asked to make choices. Research both and decide what you believe in for yourself. You have to know where you stand for yourself.
Answering the two questions above
1. If you do not have an agent, you can select Lotas Productions as your representation through the site when you create a profile.
2. If you have an agent, and they are not listed on the site, the agent would need to create a listing. Check to make sure the agency is not already listed.
3. If you are not in a Union, can you audition for Union work? Yes, you can. In fact, there is no law that states you are not allowed to apply for jobs. An article appeared in Backstage about this once last year, but this question has been around for many years, even before non-union casting websites.
4. Can non-union book Union work? Yes, but…if you are not sure what Taft-Hartley is, when non-union is hired for union work, this page from SAG-AFTRA is helpful. Taking the quote from their page:
“The Taft-Hartley Act is a US Federal labor law enacted by Congress in 1947. As it relates herein, the law allows a signatory producer to hire a non-union performer if that non-union performer possesses a quality or skill essential to the role and an available union performer with the needed quality or skill cannot be found. When hiring a non-union performer for a SAG-AFTRA covered role, you must submit to the union a Taft-Hartley report with the performers information and the reason for hire.”
5. Do I have to join the Union?
After the voice actor gets a union job, for the next 30 days, he/she can do as much union work as they want and receive all the benefits of union actors, even though they are not paying dues toward the collective bargaining agreements. THEN, you reach a “must join” status. At this point, if you want to continue doing union work, you would have to join.
Are you forced to join a union? No. Any feeling that one is “forced” into career decisions is assumed. One who is making a living using non-union sites and never sees a need to join a Union has made a business decision. It may not be that they are against them. It may just mean it is not right for them.
Simply put: Your decision may be based on “Where you live” and “Taxes”
If you happen to be non-union, audition for and book Union work, you have 30-days to book as much Union work as you want, until you must join the Union to keep doing Union work. This law applies to voice actors in forced Unionism states such as:
The work posted on Realtime Casting mainly draws attention to voice actors living in the above states; mostly California and New York. Due to state taxes, overhead, and cost of living, higher pay rates are important to anyone living and working in an expensive city or state.
“BUT wait: I live in a Right to Work state?”
If you live in the following states, known as “Right to Work” state, you can still be non-union and work in a Union environment without joining a Union aka. Financial Core. This would apply to you if you live in one of these states:
What you choose to do with the information above is your call. Websites survive because they provide a supply for a demand. If you do not need or want Realtime Casting, we are fully aware there are other websites for you. It is important to know the type of voiceover work on a website, before signing up, and how it applies to your career. 😀
1. State laws and/or the laws that govern where you live are in a constant state of flux. What is written today may be different in a year. There are more Right to Work states now than in 2000, for example.
2. If you join a Union, and live in a Right to Work state, this does not mean, “Because I am Union and live in a Right to Work state, I can do non-union work”.
3. Correction: (Thank you Stars Agency) Financial Core members are Union members, who can work both non-union and Union jobs in a Union environment because they live in a Right to Work state.
Why Unions exist: Learn from the past for a better future, but don’t dwell on the past
The idea of organized labor unions started as a direct response to the social and economic impact of the industrial revolution. As new industries were being formed in the late 1800’s, with it came new technology and there was an entirely new way of working being shaped. As always, with new ways of working and technology, the desire for infinite productivity, pushing limits, creating new rules, and how to profit most is born.
However, people are not machines. Labor unions exist to protect the worker, prevent business owners from unfairly treating workers, stopping unhealthy work conditions or methods, increasing hours of work, while lowering pay to unreasonable living rates. As we currently are in the middle of a “revolution” of digital technology, and many write online each day about the increasing difficulty of finding great paying voiceover work in a new age “Freelance Market”, it only stands to reason that we may be going through another cycle in history where Unions will be required to protect the worker. Even if they work from home.
What we can learn from the past, without dwelling on it, is that we are aware of the intentions of new technology and its usage in business. New jobs are only worth celebrating, if such jobs provide the ability for a person to live and offers a positive impact on a person’s career.
We write all this in the hopes you will think through such decisions so that joining Realtime Casting never feels like a waste of time for you. If you have any questions on this topic, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org