FAQ

We want to make sure you have the facts to make an informed decision and vote YES for our union.  If you have additional questions, please contact agvany@aol.com.

General FAQs

What is a union?

A union is a group of employees in a given workplace who come together to negotiate with their employer over their wages, benefits, and working conditions. If you join together in union with your coworkers, YOU are the union. Union members have a legally protected say in decisions related to their work.

What are my rights at work?

Under the National Labor Relations Act, you have the right to:

  • Join a union

  • Talk to your co-workers and participate in meetings to discuss joining a union or other collective efforts to improve your workplace (outside of work hours)

  • Organize fellow employees, support the union, and distribute literature and membership cards to be signed

  • Sign a union membership card and demand employer recognition of your union

  • Wear buttons, stickers, T-shirts, etc. in support of the union

  • File complaints against your employer if they are in violation of these rights

It is illegal for your employer to interfere with your union efforts. Your employer can’t:

  • Interfere with or restrain you from exercising your rights listed above 

  • Fire you for supporting a union or participating in other collective efforts to improve your workplace

  • Discriminate against you or your coworkers in hiring, promotions, or otherwise take (or threaten) adverse action because you join or support a union

  • Prohibit you from promoting the union or distributing union literature at work in ways that do not disrupt work

  • Question you about your union support or activities in a manner that discourages you from engaging in that union activity

  • Promise or grant promotions, pay raises, or any other benefits or improvements to discourage union support

  • Spy on or record peaceful union activities and gatherings or pretend to do so ● Form a competing union that is financed or controlled by an employer, instead of by you and your co-workers

  • Refuse to bargain collectively with you and your co-workers if you choose to form a union

What is the American Guild of Variety Artists?

The American Guild of Variety Artists (AGVA) is a labor union of artistes and stage Managers in live performances in the variety field, including singers and dancers in theatrical revues and touring shows, theme park performers, skaters, circus performers, comedians and stand-up comics, and cabaret and club artists. The Radio City Rockettes and cast members of Disneyland and Universal Studios, in California, are AGVA members performing under AGVA collective bargaining agreements. Founded in 1939, AGVA members have used their collective power to raise standards across the live performance industry by negotiating for minimum salaries, safe working conditions, paid time off, health and retirement benefits, and other workplace improvements.

What is the status quo period?

Immediately after a union is certified (in our case, after our election), the workplace enters what’s called the status quo period. During the status quo period, which is established by labor law, employers can’t make changes to the existing terms and conditions of employment without consulting and bargaining with the union. The status quo period governs union-management relations until after the first contract (collective bargaining agreement) is ratified. During the status quo period, the parties can negotiate and agree to interim agreements prior to completing a first contract. 

Union members can still get raises and/or promotions during the status quo period. Regularly scheduled raises or bonuses can be considered to be part of the status quo and can continue to occur normally during this period. Employers have to bargain with union members on any changes to the status quo, but union members are empowered to explicitly authorize management to make changes that are agreeable to the union as a whole, such as new raises and promotions.

If an employer says they can not give employees something the union wants because of the status quo period, be skeptical—the status quo period is meant to guarantee union members have seat at the table on key issues before their first contract is ratified.

What is collective bargaining?

Collective bargaining is the formal process union members and their employers use to negotiate the terms and conditions of work—including wages, benefits, and working conditions. Similar to the contracts CEOs have that guarantee their pay, benefits, and other conditions of employment, the terms agreed upon during collective bargaining are solidified in a contract called a collective bargaining agreement. Collective bargaining agreements are commonly referred to as union contracts.

Are members given the right to vote to approve their union contract?

Yes, members vote to approve or reject any proposed contract. Also, members can and do take an active role in negotiating their contract. Members give input on the topics that are raised in negotiations with the employer and participate in negotiations.

How much are union dues?

No one pays dues until a first contract is negotiated and voted upon. Dues ensure that we have the resources to negotiate and enforce strong contracts, seek legal support, and implement member-driven events and programs.

 

Dues range from $72 per year to $795 per year commensurate with how much you earn performing AGVA covered work. Additionally, AGVA members pay a one-time initiation fee of $750, for which there are various payment plan options. Current Medieval Times employees joining our union will not have to pay this fee, only those hired after our first contract is ratified will owe the one-time initiation fee. 

AGVA FAQs

Why is AGVA the best union for Medieval Times Performers?

AGVA has over 80 years of experience representing and advocating for performing artists and stage managers, especially in variety entertainment. The actors, stunt performers, and stage hands of Medieval Times will join in union with artists who work in New York, California, Florida, and other venues across the United States.

What is AGVA’s relationship with other entertainment unions and the broader labor movement?

AGVA and its members are united with union professionals across the entertainment industry.

 

AGVA is a part of the Associated Actors and Artistes of America (“4As”), a coalition of professional performer unions that includes Actors’ Equity Association (Equity), American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA), Guild of Italian American Actors (GIAA), and the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). The 4As exists to promote and protect the interests of the members of these four sister unions. Each union represents performers in a different part of the entertainment industry: Equity’s members are actors and stage managers in live theater; AGMA’s members are singers, dancers, and performance personnel at the principal opera houses and ballet companies in the United States, GIAA’s members are Italian speaking performers, and SAG-AFTRA represents actors, announcers, broadcasters journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists and other media professionals.

 

In addition, AGVA is an affiliate of the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE), a coalition of 24 national unions representing over 4 million professionals. Included in DPE are 12 unions with members working in the arts, entertainment, and media industries. These 12 unions, including AGVA, form the Arts, Entertainment, and Media Industry Coordinating Committee (“AEMI”), where they coordinate and connect on issues pertaining to public policy, bargaining with common employers, and workplace improvement.

Can a member of AGVA work a non-union job in another union's jurisdiction?

Generally, yes. AGVA serves to support its members’ careers and economic livelihoods. As such, AGVA does not get in the way of members pursuing careers in parts of the arts and entertainment industries outside of Variety. However, AGVA members have a responsibility to not accept work with an employer who has refused to bargain in good faith in the jurisdiction of a sister union (AGMA, Equity, GIAA, and SAG-AFTRA) or while the sister union’s members are engaged in an authorized strike.

 

The reason for this obligation is because AGVA shares a close relationship with its sister unions, which together go by the Associated Actors and Artistes of America (aka the 4A’s). AGVA and its sister unions recognize and support each other’s efforts to organize and negotiate fair contracts that raise standards across the entertainment industry.

Will Medieval Times employees have their AGVA initiation fee waived?

Yes, any eligible bargaining unit member employed by Medieval Times at the time of the signing of the contract will have their AGVA initiation fee waived. 

For union members hired after the contract is agreed upon, how much time do they have to pay the $750 initiation fee?

Payment of the initiation fee can be constructed to meet prospective AGVA members' specific work arrangements and financial situations. Most AGVA members pay the initiation fee  over the course of six or fewer weeks or all at once.

How can AGVA dues be paid?

As a reminder, prospective members will not pay dues until the first contract is ratified. Additionally, dues provide for the resources necessary to negotiate and enforce strong contracts, seek legal support, and implement member-driven events and programs. 

 

AGVA members can pay their dues through payroll deduction or via credit card or PayPal. Dues are assessed yearly and invoices are mailed each April 1st, August 1st, and December 1st. 

Are AGVA members able to vote on whether or not they go on strike?

Yes, because AGVA is a member-run/member-led union, members would decide whether to strike. In other words, a strike will not happen unless members vote to authorize a strike. AGVA members have not been on strike in over fifty years.

What is the fine for crossing the picket line of a strike called by AGVA?

AGVA members have not been on strike in over fifty years, but if in the future members decided to strike, and if a member crosses the picket line of an AGVA-authorized strike, the member may incur a fine of up to $2,500 because crossing the picket line hurts fellow AGVA members and threatens the solidarity needed to improve our jobs. The decision to fine members and the amount of the fine have been set by AGVA members and AGVA members can vote to adjust these rules. AGVA members are also entitled to due process protections as part of any internal union discipline process. 

Union Myths vs. Facts

Even though joining together in union is our legally protected right, Medieval Times has hired an anti-union consultant to spread misinformation about our union. Below we bust some common myths about unions that you may have heard from management and their anti-union consultant.

Myth: The union is a third party

We the performers of Medieval Times are the union. We are coming together to gain a  voice in our pay, benefits, and working conditions, and create a fairer, safer, more enjoyable workplace. As a union, we will set the priorities for our contract and lead negotiations, and then we will have the opportunity to vote to ratify it. 

Myth: Collective bargaining is a gamble,  you could end up worse off.

Employers are required by law to bargain in good faith. That means Medieval Times must demonstrate a sincere effort to compromise on the proposals we put forward during the collective bargaining process. It would be illegal for Medieval Times to cut wages or benefits in retaliation for voting for our union. Additionally, we vote on the union contract, and we are not going to vote for a contract that makes our workplace worse with lower pay and less benefits. 

Myth: Typically employees do not receive pay raises until a contract is ratified.

Employees can still get raises and promotions before a contract is ratified. With a union, we will have a say in workplace decisions and will be completely empowered to explicitly authorize management to make changes that are agreeable to us, such as raises and promotions.

Myth: Dues are expensive and not worth what you get in return.

No dues will be paid until we ratify our first collective bargaining agreement. Dues pay for bargaining, contract enforcement, education, legal services, and other things that allow our union to be effective. In addition to giving us a seat at the table, our first contract should far exceed the cost of dues in increased pay and benefits.

Myth: 
Medieval Times will never agree to a contract. This could take years.

Once we win union recognition, Medieval Times will be legally obligated to bargain in good faith. A strong first contract will take hard work and solidarity, but millions of employees across the country have banned together and secured strong contracts that improve pay, benefits, and conditions at their workplace.