Move to reduce corruption associated with old system

The SAG national board has voted unanimously to adopt the recommendation from its extras committee to replace the three-voucher eligibility rule with a new “points earned” system.

Vote was held Oct. 19 at the most recent SAG national board meeting, the guild announced Monday.

In August, the union’s national executive committee passed a resolution to end the “three-voucher” background actor membership eligibility rule — a rule frequently subject to bypass via corrupt practices such as bribery and even extortion. Under such a rule, any “background performer” who obtained vouchers for working three days in guild-signatory productions and paid a $1,310 initiation fee was a SAG member.

The new system will provide two separate routes to guild membership: either union or allowed non-union background work on SAG signatory projects. A performer also may be able to achieve points toward membership by participating in other designated activities that “raise professional standards and support the basic aims of the guild.”

“The new system increases the professionalism of incoming members by requiring more experience on professional sets before obtaining eligibility,” said Gerald Kline, national chair of the NBAC.

In a nod to the oft-perverted system of “buying” vouchers from the unscrupulous, Hollywood co-chairs Mitchell Ryan and Russell McConnell noted the new system is an attempt to reduce corruption associated with the voucher system by offering an alternate method to get into the guild, thus reducing the vouchers’ “street value.”

The national board also established a transition committee to handle the details and timetable for implementing the new system; it will be responsible for recommending to the board when the new rule should go into effect and how current holders of vouchers will be integrated into the new “points” system.

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