DGA: Major Studios "Commit" Two Weeks Pay for Below-the-Line Members

Los Angeles Sunset Blvd March 25 2020

Major studios have committed to two weeks of pay for below-the-line Directors Guild of America members impacted by production shutdowns during the coronavirus crisis, according to a DGA communication released Wednesday.

Although its director members are marquee names, the guild also represents assistant and associate directors and unit production managers, among others, while most of the rest of unionized motion picture or television crew are part of IATSE or the Teamsters.

The memo, signed by DGA president Thomas Schlamme and national executive director Russell Hollander, related that the guild is in talks with additional employers, similarly asking for relief. According to the memo, "We are also working hard to secure relief for directors. For those of you who work in news, we are pushing the networks and local stations to provide a safe workplace."

The DGA cited additional efforts in the memo, including fast tracking residuals pay, explaining that its staff "worked around the clock and on weekends in advance of the [stay at home] order to fast-track thousands of residuals checks worth tens of millions of dollars so you would have this important source of income in your hands immediately. As additional checks are delivered, the team is continuing its incredible work to turn them around as quickly as possible."

On Wednesday, the DGA also reported that its benefits plan’s Board of Trustees approved "temporary changes" to coverage in response to the pandemic. "That includes the waiving of all patient cost sharing (i.e., co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles) for COVID-19 related testing through June 15 ... [and] allowing participants whose dependent premiums are due on April 1st to defer payment of dependent premiums until July 1st."

The memo said that members whose current coverage expires on March 31 but who had met the minimum earnings threshold from 2019 are covered through March 31, 2021. "To reiterate, even if you had no earnings in the first quarter of 2020, you are still protected for the next year," according to the memo.