Fi-Core or "financial core" status is a distinction within the Screen Actors Guild allowing actors to work both union and non-union jobs.
Stemming from a 1963 Supreme Court ruling (NLRB v. General Moters), the result is an option for actors to not be bound by the Screen Actors Guild member requirement of working only on SAG signatory projects. The reality is, under fi-core you are not technically a SAG member, but still pay dues to the union. There is a misconception that you have to become a S.A.G. member before electing fi-core status. That is not the case.
Many argue the S.A.G. web page (view here) explaining the Fi-Core option doesn't contain all the relevant information and is even misleading. S.A.G. explains a fi-core 'member' is actually not a 'member' but is classified as a "fee paying non-member' or FPNM. Additionally, FPNMs are not supposed to represent themselves as 'S.A.G. member' but the site does not detail if a "S.A.G." and/or "S.A.G. FPNM" distinction(s) are' allowed.'
Additionally, the site explains "The presumption of Screen Actors Guild is that your resignation is a permanent decision " Note, they don't say a FPNM cannot rejoin as a "traditional" S.A.G. member nor any more information on that topic at all.
Another piece of attempted frightening and intimidating information on the S.A.G. page is " Fi-Core/FPNM are viewed as scabs or anti-union by SAG members, directors, and writers — most of whom also belong to entertainment unions." It's interesting to note that cleverly constructed verbiage may lead the reader to assum this claim is being made about "most" actors, directors and writers when that's not being said - for the simple reason that it would be difficult and likely impossible to back up.
Many actors report horror stories, some coming from Screen Actors Guild representatives themselves, that a large number of producers "blacklist" fi-core actors. To date, we've not gotten confirmation of this on any level. The fact is, producers and directors appreciate fi-core actors as they often represent a higher caliber of talent with more experience than typical non-union actors. When it comes to producers and directors working S.A.G. productions, if "union status" trumps talent, appearance and appropriateness for the role, you may want to question the person making those casting decisions anyway.
What S.A.G. doesn't reveal on their fi-core web page is that a FPNM sees a reduction in dues (about 4%) nor do they reiterate that the average S.A.G actor can expect to make less than $10,000 in annual income. Yet knowing how little money their average member makes, they try to discourage them from taking other work that might bring them closer to an annual income reaching the poverty level! Additionally, fi-core members still benefit from full health and pension benefits (also left off the S.A.G. fi-core page!). In fact, as of the launching of this site, we've been unable to find this little piece of information anywhere on the S.A.G. site.
February 2001, President Bush signed an executive order requiring unions to disclose to prospective members their "financial core" rights.
Some other sites addressing the fi-core issue: