DGA Previews Studio Negotiations: ‘Together, We Are an Unstoppable Union’

Negotiators for the Directors Guild of America on Tuesday gave a video preview of their upcoming talks with the studios, saying they are “fighting to receive our fair share of the new, global future.”

The DGA begins its round of bargaining on Wednesday with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The guild is focused on rewriting the streaming residual formula to account for the growth in foreign subscribers.

“The explosive popularity of streaming around the world has transformed how, and where, our work is viewed, and our contracts must adapt to changing production and distribution,” said Karen Gaviola, negotiations co-chair.

The DGA talks will begin on the ninth day of the Writers Guild of America strike. The negotiations will take place in the same AMPTP conference room in Sherman Oaks where WGA negotiators spent six weeks attempting to reach an agreement, before those talks collapsed on May 1.

So long as AMPTP negotiators are occupied with the directors, it’s not expected they will have much opportunity to deal with the WGA — not that either side has expressed interest in restarting talks anyway.

The DGA contract expires on June 30, as does the SAG-AFTRA contract. SAG-AFTRA is set to begin its negotiations on June 7.

A deal with the DGA could put pressure on the writers. But WGA negotiators have advised not to expect a repeat of 2008, when a DGA contract paved the way for an agreement with the writers that ended a 100-day strike.

The DGA has a reputation of being more aligned with the studios’ objectives than the writers are. In the video message, Todd Holland, co-chair of the DGA negotiating committee, noted that throughout the guild’s 87-year history, “we have partnered with producers to share in the success of our industry.”

At the same time, the DGA has suggested this year might be tougher than usual.

“We know there will be conflict,” Holland said. “The battle will test us.”

Jon Avnet, the negotiations chair, added: “Together, we are an unstoppable union.”

In addition to a better streaming residual formula, the DGA is also looking for increases in minimum rates to account for inflation, and provisions on set safety, long workdays and diversity, as well as moves to shore up the pension and health plan.

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