The last time the Screen Actors Guild imposed a dues increase on its members, in 1987, the average movie ticket cost $4 and first-class stamps went for 22 cents.
But if dues had kept up with inflation, the $85 that members currently pay in base assessments would be $123, guild officials say. Higher dues are inevitable, they maintain, although the object is to keep the hike to just $15, for an annual base total of $100.
This week, the union’s 90,000 members should begin receiving ballots for a referendum on the matter.
“Without a dues increase, services will be cut and our reserves will run dangerously low,” guild officials wrote in the current issue of Call Sheet, SAG’s Hollywood newsletter.
In a letter that accompanies the ballots, members are told that without higher dues, “we’ll be headed backward, cutting services, staff and activities that help actors.”
Under the proposed formula, base dues would be $100 a year plus 1.85% of earnings from $1 to $200,000 and .5% of earnings from $200,001 to $500,000.
For instance, an actor making $54,900 would pay $1,116 in dues, while one pulling in $500,000 would pony up $5,300.
Members have until Sept. 15 to return their ballots.