Should I join the musicians union? Should I remain non-union? Should I go fi-core?
The decision to join the union, remain non-union or assert your Beck status or fi-core status is a personal one. If you perform with a major symphony orchestra in your city and do not play freelance gigs, joining the union may be the best fit for you. If the bulk of your work comes from non-union contractors, remaining non-union may be the best option and will save you money as you will not have to pay dues. Should your situation change as your career grows, you can always change your union affiliation.
However, if you are like thousands of rank and file professional musicians across the country who earn a living by playing both union and non-union jobs, the decision is not as clear. The American Federation of Musicians bylaws states that a union member cannot play non-union jobs. Yet many musicians choose to do both and hope they will not get caught. This runs the risk of being brought up on charges for violating the union’s bylaws and can be costly and time-consuming. So, what are the options?
You may choose to assert your Beck, or fi-core rights. Fi-core is short for financial core. Fi-core musicians pay only that share of union dues chargeable for the cost of union administration, collective bargaining, contract representation and to matters that are germane to representation. In Los Angeles, fi-core dues are 84.84% of dues paid by full members. This allows you to play both union and non-union jobs without fear of repercussion because you are protected by the United States Supreme Court ruling, in Communications Workers of America v. Beck, 487 U.S. 735 (1988).
It is important to do your research and find your best fit. For further information, see links below:
Resources and Links
The Fi-core Workbook: http://ficorecentral.com/
Debunking the Myths About Fi-Core/Beck Status :https://cmgmusicrecording.com/fi-core-beck-status/