The Screen Actors Guild is a labor union that represents actresses and actors in America. The name is often abbreviated as SAG. SAG’s membership is made up of more than 120,000 movie actors and actresses, as well as television performers. SAG also has members in many countries internationally.
SAG works daily to ensure that the proper working conditions are met for its members. This includes making sure that performers are receiving benefits and fair pay and that all royalties for their work are received. As with all unions, SAG works hard to make sure that its members are able to find work.
The SAG associates itself with the AAAA (the Associated Actors and Artistes of America and the AFL-CIO). Film productions, or motion pictures, fall under the sole jurisdiction of SAG. TV drama, film drama, internet, radio, and all other media are shared with another union called AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists). SAG has many offices across the United States and around the world. Its main office is appropriately located in Hollywood, CA.
Abuses of movie actors and actresses, along with other actors, were a common activity in Hollywood prior to the creation of the Screen Actors Guild. Many performers would find themselves working long hours with no opportunities to take a break.
Contracts, drafted by the studio’s attorneys, took advantage of the performers as well, as they gave Hollywood unfair control of both their personal and professional lives. Unknown to the performer, contracts were often renewed discreetly by the studio, and the performer would then find themselves unable to opt out of the contract because they were unaware of certain clauses that the studios had added.
The Screen Actors Guild was started in 1925 under the name of the Masquers Club. The Masquers Club was created because of a need, by a group of about eight of them, to put a stop to the abuses that the studios were forcing onto its performers.
Film actors who had no contract found themselves facing even worse conditions than did those with a contract, and some actors and actresses had had enough. The Masquers Club officially became the Screen Actors Guild in 1933. In 1937, the passage of the National Labor Relations Act prompted Hollywood producers to agree to negotiate and work with the SAG labor union.