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The Directors Guild of America set a date with studios and streamers for its latest contract negotiations.
The union, which represents directors, assistant directors, unit production managers and others, will enter into talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on May 10, the AMPTP and the DGA jointly announced on Monday. The DGA’s current basic agreement expires on June 30.
Directors Guild leaders communicated the date in a message to its members on Monday that positioned the union’s focus going into negotiations as forward-looking: “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,” negotiations chair Jon Avnet, co-chairs Karen Gaviola and Todd Holland and national executive director Russ Hollander wrote. “Today, this means addressing the impact of vertical integration and Company self-dealing as well as the Studios’ increasingly international focus.”
The move sets the DGA up to enter negotiations following the industry’s writers, represented by the WGA, who will start talks on March 20. It’s the first time the DGA will follow the WGA in a contract year since 2008, when the writers were still waging their last, 100-day strike. In more recent contract cycles the DGA has negotiated far ahead of their contract expiration date, but this time is different, leaders first told members in February: “Our approach to bargaining is, and has always been, guided by one simple principle: We will only negotiate when we believe we will win the best possible deal,” DGA’s Jon Avnet, Karen Gaviola, Todd Holland and Russ Hollander wrote in a letter then.
Directors Guild leaders have warned members that the coming contract negotiations are expected to be “one of the most difficult and complex we have faced in many years” as studios and streamers face economic headwinds; according to the DGA, early, informal talks with employers resulted in little progress, as they were previously “not prepared to address our key issues.” Nevertheless, the union is barreling forward with its plan to boost streaming residuals for members and overall wages, institute new set safety standards, gain more transparency from entertainment giants, support their health and pension plans and improve industry diversity.
In their communication to members on Monday, DGA leaders also announced the formation of an “outreach team,” a group of members that communicate internally to peers during negotiations. The team is analogous to the Writers Guild of America’s “contract captain” system of volunteers who help the guild mobilize quickly during talks — and its organization further reinforces the guild’s prior statements that it is preparing for a difficult negotiations cycle.
“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 union leaders concluded their membership communication on Monday. “The DGA knows how to win, and — with your help — we will win again.”
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