A Guide to Hollywood Unions

In Hollywood, making movies is big business. And where there is big business, the workers unite to form unions. The following list is a sampling of the unions that every large production in Los Angeles will work with in the process of making a film.

This is a partial list of the union organizations involved with collective bargaining for the Hollywood studio system. We have linked union official pages where you will find more information about membership requirements, issues they support, and information about how to join.

These unions can be broken down into two groups: Above the Line (individuals involved with creative side: actors, producers, directors) and Below the Line (individuals who perform the physical production of a given film including editing)

Above the Line

SAG-AFTRA

SAG-AFTRA represents more than 160,000 actors, announcers, broadcasters journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists and other media professionals. SAG-AFTRA members are the faces and voices that entertain and inform America and the world. With national offices in Los Angeles and New York, and local offices nationwide, SAG-AFTRA members work together to secure the strongest protections for media artists into the 21st century and beyond.

Website: SAGAFRTRA.org

Writers Guild of America, West

We are the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW), a labor union composed of the thousands of writers who write the content for television shows, movies, news programs, documentaries, animation, and Internet and mobile phones (new media) that keep audiences constantly entertained and informed.

Website: WGA.org

Directors Guild of America

The Directors Guild of America is an entertainment guild that represents the creative and economic rights of directors and members of the directorial team working in film, television, commercials, documentaries, news, sports and new media.

Website: DGA.org

Association of Talent Agents

The Association of Talent Agents (ATA), is not a talent agency. ATA is a non-profit trade association representing the finest talent agencies in the industry. Founded in 1937, ATA is the voice of unified talent and literary agencies. ATA agencies represent the vast majority of working artists, including actors, directors, writers, and other artists in film, stage, television, radio, commercial, literary work, and other entertainment enterprises.

Website: AgentAssociation.com

Producers Guild of America

The Producers Guild of America is the non-profit trade group that represents, protects and promotes the interests of all members of the producing team in film, television and new media. The PGA has over 5,000 members who work together to protect and improve their careers, the industry and community by facilitating members health benefits, encouraging enforcement of workplace labor laws, the creation of fair and impartial standards for the awarding of producing credits, as well as other education and advocacy efforts.

Website: ProducersGuild.org

Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers

Since 1982, The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) has been the trade association responsible for negotiating virtually all the industry-wide guild and union contracts, including the American Federation of Musicians (AFM); American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA); Directors Guild of America (DGA); International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE); International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); Laborers Local 724; Screen Actors Guild (SAG); Teamsters Local 399; and Writers Guild of America (WGA).

The AMPTP, the entertainment industry’s official collective bargaining representative, negotiates 80 industry-wide collective bargaining agreements on behalf of over 350 motion picture and television producers (member companies include the production entities of the studios, broadcast networks, certain cable networks and independent producers).

Website: IATSE-Intl.org

American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is a membership association of more than 435,000 U.S. composers, songwriters, lyricists, and music publishers of every kind of music. Through agreements with affiliated international societies, ASCAP also represents hundreds of thousands of music creators worldwide. ASCAP is the only U.S. performing rights organization created and controlled by composers, songwriters and music publishers, with a Board of Directors elected by and from the membership.

ASCAP protects the rights of its members by licensing and distributing royalties for the non-dramatic public performances of their copyrighted works. ASCAP’s licensees encompass all who want to perform copyrighted music publicly. ASCAP makes giving and obtaining permission to perform music simple for both creators and users of music.

Website ASCAP.com

Below the Line

I.A.T.S.E

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada was founded in 1893 when representatives of stagehands working in eleven cities met in New York and pledged to support each others’ efforts to establish fair wages and working conditions for their members. Our union has evolved over the succeeding 119 years to embrace the development of new entertainment mediums, craft expansion, technological innovation and geographic growth.

I.A.T.S.E. local organizations cover many production crafts people from Art Directors, Costume Designers, Make-Up Artists and Hairstylists, Studio Lighting Technicians, Set Painters, Script Supervisors.

Here’s a longer list of I.A.T.S.E. Local Organizations.

International Cinematographers Guild

An I.A.T.S.E. organization, The International Cinematographers Guild represents the most talented camera professionals and publicists in the world. The technicians and artisans in our union are the creators of the visual images on the big screen, the television screen and our computer screen.

Website: CameraGuild.com

Teamsters Union 399

This Union represents workers in the motion picture industry, including firms that produce feature films, television programs, commercials, and live theatrical productions. Since the inception of the Union in the early 1930s, we have enjoyed a longstanding tradition of providing quality service to the motion picture and theatrical trade industry.

Website: HT399.org

Motion Picture Editors Guild

The Motion Picture Editors Guild (MPEG) is a national labor organization currently representing over 7,200 freelance and staff post-production professionals. Ours is the world’s premiere craft guild that sets the standards for excellence in the post-production industry. The requirements to become a member of the Guild and placed on our Industry Experience Roster ensures the highest level of professionalism.

Website Editorsguild.com

Animation Guild

The Animation Guild is Local 839 of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE). We are a labor organization that represents animation and visual effects artists. We do for our members what every labor organization does: negotiate wage minimums and working conditions, provide pension and health benefits (specifically through the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plan) and act as an advocate for our members over disputes between employees and employers. Our goal is to provide a seamless cloak of benefits and the strength of a collective voice to our members across the animation industry. Our offices (see image below) are located at 1105 N. Hollywood Way in Burbank, California.

Website AnimationGuild.org

Motion Picture Sound Editors

The MPSE is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide a wealth of knowledge from award winning professionals to a diverse group of individuals, youth and career professionals alike; mentoring and educating the community about the artistic merit and technical advancements in sound and music editing; providing scholarships and mentorship for the continuing advancement of motion picture sound in education; and helping to enhance the personal and professional lives of the men and women who practice this unique craft.

Website: MPSE.org