Directors Guild announces tentative agreement with producers
The Directors Guild of America has reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, guild officials announced.
The late Saturday agreement includes a 12.5% salary increase over a three-year period and a “substantial” increase in residuals for streaming content — including a 76% increase in foreign residuals for the largest platforms and mutual confirmation that artificial intelligence is not a person and cannot replace the duties performed by DGA members.
The deal comes after less than a month of negotiations, ahead of the June 30 expiration of the guild’s current contract with producers and amid the Writers Guild of America’s monthlong strike over many of the same issues.
“We have concluded a truly historic deal,” said Jon Avnet, chair of the DGA’s Negotiations Committee. “It provides significant improvements for every Director, Assistant Director, Unit Production Manager, Associate Director and Stage Manager in our Guild. In these negotiations, we made advances on wages, streaming residuals, safety, creative rights and diversity, as well as securing essential protections for our members on new key issues like artificial intelligence — ensuring DGA members will not be replaced by technological advances.
“This deal would not have been possible without the unity of the DGA membership, and we are grateful for the strong support of union members across the industry.”
The producers have not yet commented on the agreement, but DGA president Lesli Linka Glatter called it historic.
“This deal recognizes the future of our industry is global and respects the unique and essential role of directors and their teams as we move into that future,” Glatter said. “As each new technology brings about major change, this deal ensures that each of the DGA’s 19,000 members can share in the success we all create together. The unprecedented gains in this deal are a credit to the excellent work, tenacity and preparation of our Negotiations Committee.”
Initial reaction to the agreement from DGA members on social media was mixed.
“Would be nice if my union had at least ‘attempted’ to communicate with members on a potential deal with the AMPTP rather than us reading about it in the press first,” director Peter Atencio tweeted. “The DGA’s lack of transparency and involvement with rank & file in this has been baffling and frustrating.”
Film and music video director Joseph Kahn termed it better than the current pact.
“I read the tentative agreement the Directors Guild has reached,” Kahn wrote on Twitter. “I’m honestly impressed. They’ve done a great job negotiating many improvements, way more than I was expecting. Thank you DGA for your hard work.”
Meanwhile, the WGA’s roughly 20,000 members have been on strike since May 2 with no end in sight.
The union’s leaders said in a statement posted to its website prior to Saturday’s announcement that an agreement between directors and producers would not end the strike.
“Our position is clear,” the WGA statement said. “To resolve the strike, the companies will have to negotiate with the WGA on our full agenda. The era of divide and conquer is over.”
The DGA as well as the SAG-AFTRA actors’ union have expressed support for the writers, something the WGA said was not the case during its 2007-08 strike, when directors went their own way.
“This year is different,” the WGA statement said. “Every union in town came out in support of the WGA, both during negotiations and after the start of the strike. The DGA has been clear that it is facing a tough and critical negotiation to address its members’ needs. Yesterday, we joined a statement along with SAG-AFTRA, IATSE (behind the scenes talent) and Teamsters 399 (casting, drivers, logistics) in solidarity with the DGA in their negotiations. SAG-AFTRA is taking a strike authorization vote as they enter negotiations to address the existential issues its members are facing. Teamsters, IATSE, and other entertainment union members have been honoring WGA picket lines across the country.”
The WGA said the producers negotiation tactic “only works if unions are divided.”
SAG-AFTRA is set to begin its negotiations with producers on Wednesday and has already asked its members to approve authorization for a strike, if necessary. Ballots are due at 5 p.m. Monday.
As for the DGA agreement, it still needs the approval of its National Board, which is set to consider it during a special meeting Tuesday.
DGA officials said the specific details of the tentative agreement will be released after it has been submitted to the Board.