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The Directors Guild of America is ramping up its member mobilization efforts ahead of its 2023 negotiations with the studios and streamers.
The union, which represents thousands of directors as well as unit production managers, stage managers and others, has appointed its former presidents Paris Barclay and Thomas Schlamme co-chairs of its new outreach team, current leader Lesli Linka Glatter said on Tuesday. This group, which the guild announced in early March, will focus on communicating negotiations updates to members and boosting their engagement and solidarity in the talks.
“With their experience as former presidents of the DGA and their unrivaled knowledge of our industry, Paris and Tommy will serve as incredible representatives of our Guild to our members as we prepare to win the best possible contract for our members,” Glatter said in a statement. “With their guidance, the DGA Outreach Team is ready to unite our 19,000 members to fight for our future.”
It’s the first time in recent history that the DGA has formed such a group, pointing to the importance of this year’s negotiations for the guild. The outreach team is analogous to the Writers Guild’s “contract captain” system, which assigns volunteer members to communicate and coordinate with small groups of their peers. The Writers Guild has around 450 such captains across both their eastern and western branches in their current negotiations, which affect around 11,000 voting members.
For the first time in many years, the start of DGA negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) is scheduled just weeks away from the union’s main film and TV contract’s expiration date on June 30. Typically, in recent years, the union has negotiated long before the end of the contract. This year, leaders have explained to members in internal communications, the union has deemed it most advantageous to engage their members’ employers late in the contract cycle.
“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,” negotiations committee chair Jon Avnet, co-chair Karen Gaviola, co-chair Todd Holland and the union’s national executive director Russ Hollander said in February.
The DGA is currently scheduled to begin negotiations May 10, a date that allows the Writers Guild’s talks with studios and streamers to precede the directors’. DGA leaders have stated that major priorities for the union’s talks in 2023 include increasing streaming residuals and improving overall compensation, gaining more data transparency from streamers, setting safety standards, shoring up the guild’s health and pension plans and bolstering efforts to improve industry diversity.
In a joint statement, Barclay and Schlamme — who led the guild from 2013-2017 and 2017-2021, respectively — said, “These negotiations will shape the future of our industry, and we’re ready to fight for that future.” (Both also have current roles at the union, with Barclay serving as secretary-treasurer and Schlamme as co-chair of the Creative Rights Television Committee.)
Negotiations chair Jon Avnet added in his own statement that Barclay and Schlamme will “play a crucial role in keeping us united” as the DGA confronts “this difficult round of negotiations.”
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