DGA-AMPTP Talks Start

A press blackout is in effect as up to two to three weeks of talks start.

The DGA began its formal negotiations with the AMPTP Tuesday morning, as previously announced. THR has learned that, as assumed, DGA national executive director Jay Roth has previously had informal conversations with management representatives.

THR has also learned that negotiations are scheduled to run through the first week of December, meaning that a total of about 10-15 days have been allocated for the talks.

The exact number of days allocated depends on days off for rest and the holidays, and on whether “first week of December” means the first full week of December or the first partial week. In any case, the DGA has a history of reaching agreements within a short timeframe.

SAG and AFTRA recently reached a tentative agreement with the AMPTP. Their boards will jointly meet Dec. 4 to approve the deal.

Assuming, as is all but certain, that the joint board approves the deal, ratification materials will be sent out to members of both unions. No mailing schedule has been set yet. However, in order to avoid having the materials lost in the December holiday mail pileups at agents’ offices and members’ homes, the materials may not go out until early January.

Once the materials are sent out, the members will have a window in which to vote. This will probably be three weeks, but this too is unclear. Three weeks is the typical SAG window, but these negotiations have been conducted under the so-called Phase I joint bargaining framework, which may imply different timing.

Contract approval requires a majority vote of the combined membership voting. Dual cardholders -- i.e., members of both unions -- are each entitled to cast a single vote.

The current SAG/AFTRA and DGA deals expire June 30. The WGA deal expires two months earlier, on May 1, but no talks have been set yet. In 2001 and 2004, the deals were negotiated after the contracts expired, but there’s no way to predict whether this pattern will be repeated. In 2007, there was a bruising 100-day strike, but a repetition of that seems extremely unlikely.