My Screen Actors Guild orientation was this week in the James Cagney room down SAG headquarters. It was led by an actress named Lee Garlington, who made it very interesting and entertaining. I learned a bit about the history of the guild, about how a guild technically differs from a union (a guild does not seek to gain employment for its members), and about all of the benefits of being a member. These include, but are not limited to, working conditions protection, classes about the business of acting, casting director workshops, community outreach programs, film screenings, a credit union, a pension plan, and health insurance (with a minimum income).
It's true that the current labor negotiations aren't going so well (the current SAG contract with the studios expires June 30). But after hearing what Lee had to say about the Guild and what it means to be a member, I'm more excited than ever to be a part of this group.