DGA Negotiations to Begin on May 10, After WGA Contract Expires

The Directors Guild of America will enter negotiations on a new contract on May 10, the union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said Monday.

The DGA previously stated that it would wait until “later this spring” to conduct bargaining on a new contract, saying that the studios were “not yet prepared to address our key issues.” The current contract expires on June 30.

The talks will begin 10 days after the current Writers Guild of America contract expires. It is possible that the WGA could be out on strike at that point. WGA talks are set to begin on March 20.

Both guilds have signaled that they expect an unusually difficult round of bargaining, as streaming takes a larger and larger share of the reuse market. The guilds have argued that their members do not receive enough residuals from streaming platforms, compared to traditional residuals on broadcast and cable.

At the Writers Guild of America awards Sunday night, WGA West president Meredith Stiehm said it is time for a “sea change” in writers’ compensation structures.

While observers have been watching the WGA closely in anticipation of the first strike since 2007-08, the DGA has also indicated that it is “prepared for a fight.”

“This will not be an ordinary negotiation,” the union’s leadership said in November. “These negotiations will shape the future of our industry.”

The DGA typically goes first and has a reputation as being easier for the studios to deal with than the WGA. The DGA often announces a new three-year agreement well in advance of the expiration date of the current deal. By deliberately going after the WGA, and cutting it closer to the deadline, the guild has suggested it will take a harder line this time.

The SAG-AFTRA contract also expires on June 30. Bargaining dates have not yet been set for that contract.

The full email that went to DGA members on Monday follows.

Dear Members:

Our major contracts expire on June 30. Ahead of that key deadline, we have a legal and contractual obligation to bargain in good faith, and we intend to honor that commitment. As such, we and the AMPTP have agreed to begin negotiations on May 10th.

As we press forward on your core issues — wages, streaming residuals, health and pension plans, creative rights, diversity and safety — we will continue to be led by our Negotiating Committee, made up of more than 80 members from all categories, genres, and geographic areas. We will maintain a laser focus on achieving a fair contract that will allow you to participate in the global growth of this industry and the distribution of your work around the world.

For more than a year and a half we have been preparing, listening to the concerns of our members, researching the issues and consulting with industry experts so we are in the best possible position to achieve our goals. Our strategic bargaining process ensures that we reach the strongest contract with your participation and your voice at the table.

Towards that end, we are forming a DGA Outreach Team made up of DGA members across our entire membership. The purpose of the Outreach Team is to:

– Provide communication to each of you about negotiations
– Support increased member engagement and awareness around our contract issues and demands
– Communicate with you about member meetings, virtual and in-person activities and mobilization
– Answer your questions in real time about the issues or the process.

If you are interested in learning more about the Outreach Team or how you could be involved, please contact [email protected].

The history of our industry is a story about evolution and technological change. Today is no different. The DGA has always protected our members’ future by anticipating where the industry is going, where future growth will take place and negotiating agreements that reap benefits now and more significantly, in the future. Today, this means addressing the impact of vertical integration and Company self-dealing as well as the Studios’ increasingly international focus.

We are committed to negotiating a contract that treats our members fairly and with respect while defending the future of this industry – a future we will all build together. The DGA knows how to win, and — with your help — we will win again.

Jon Avnet (Negotiations Chair), Karen Gaviola (Negotiations Co-Chair), Todd Holland (Negotiations Co-Chair) and Russ Hollander (National Executive Director)

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