I'm a videographer who is relatively new to this profession, who has just gotten called to videotape a couple of lectures in May, but have been told that I need to be “in the union” because it’s taking place in a hotel where that happens to be the rule. I actually have no idea what they’re talking about. I was wondering if any members of this forum have heard of and know how to deal with this sort of situation—i.e., is there in fact some sort of union in this industry, who they are, what they cost to join, etc., or better yet, how it might be possible to work around this situation.
Unions are their own thing. In internationally (including the USA) we have The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, etc., etc., etc., I.A.T.S.E. (http://www.iatse212.com/) It's pretty much all encompassing. Each city has their own locals, however. Most are difficult to get in to, as there is much competition. Do your home work and good luck.
The rules in most hotels I've worked with allow you to work there if you bring in at least one union employee per non-union employee. Of course, that means you usually have to be an "employer", but you probably should contact the local union first, the hotel should be able to give you that info.