DGA Approves Three-Year Film and TV Contract

SAG and AFTRA approved their contract last week, but the WGA, with a May 1 expiration, has not yet set talks.

The DGA membership on Tuesday ratified a new motion picture and television deal with the AMPTP. Percentages and the number of ballots returned were not disclosed. The tentative deal was reached last month and endorsed by the union’s board.

The 3-year pact takes effect July 1. As previously reported, it includes 2% annual wage increases, a one-time 1.5% increase in employer contributions to the pension and health plans and as a shift from first-class air travel to new rules favoring business class and coach.

The agreement also provides for a new, higher compensation tier for directors working on high-budget basic cable dramatic programming. The tier builds on an improvement the DGA received in the previous round of negotiations, when it achieved an outsized increase in director’s compensation on high-budget basic cable for series in the second and subsequent seasons.

In a statement, DGA president Taylor Hackford said: “The extraordinarily positive response by DGA members demonstrates their support for the new contract. I’m proud of what this guild has achieved and pleased to see the strength and unity of our membership as illustrated by this vote.”

As with the SAG/AFTRA deal, there were no significant changes in new media. SAG/AFTRA achieved a revision in the definition of “covered performer,” but this was a minor and actor-specific modification.

Negotiations chair Gil Cates underscored the guild’s focus this negotiating cycle on health insurance issues. “Protecting the health benefits of DGA members, retirees and their families was our top negotiating priority and remains one of the most important things we do as a guild. The new contract will provide for a more equitable, sustainable way of providing health benefits for our members.”

Negotiations with the AMPTP began Nov. 16 and concluded Dec. 7. Talks were led by Cates and DGA national executive director Jay Roth.

For the first time, the DGA deal also includes residuals for associate directors on multicamera primetime dramatic series. Those ADs were previously known as technical coordinators.

The DGA said the agreement also includes provisions addressing diversity. creative rights and issues arising from changing production patterns including development services, long hours for assistant directors and the employment of unit production managers.

The current SAG, AFTRA and DGA contracts expire on June 30. The WGA contract expires two months earlier, on May 1, but no talks have been scheduled yet.

That’s generating concern that the WGA may not schedule negotiations until March and engage in a brinksmanship strategy in order to seek improvements in areas that SAG/AFTRA did not, such as certain new media and basic cable provisions. The WGA has identified both those areas as priorities as well as pension and health improvements and workplace issues such as “a deteriorating pitching process.”

An ambitious “Pattern of Demands” – an outline of negotiating priorities – is out to WGA members for their approval. It’s due back by Jan. 24.