Directors Guild, AMPTP Reach Deal; What's Next for WGA, SAG-AFTRA?
What does the tentative agreement between the Directors Guild of America (DGA) & AMPTP mean for the writers' strike, the WGA & SAG-AFTRA?
Overnight, the Directors Guild of America (DGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) announced that they had reached a tentative new three-year contract that the DGA said in a statement "achieves major breakthroughs in addressing the international growth of the entertainment industry and makes significant gains across key economic and creative rights while reaffirming the critical role of DGA directors and their teams." The agreement is set to be submitted to the DGA's National Board for approval at a special board meeting scheduled for June 6th (with more details on the contract set to be released to the public at that time).
"We have concluded a truly historic deal. It provides significant improvements for every Director, Assistant Director, Unit Production Manager, Associate Director, and Stage Manager in our Guild," shared Jon Avnet, chair of the DGA's Negotiations Committee. "In these negotiations, we made advances on wages, streaming residuals, safety, creative rights, and diversity, as well as securing essential protections for our members on new key issues like artificial intelligence – ensuring DGA members will not be replaced by technological advances. This deal would not have been possible without the unity of the DGA membership, and we are grateful for the strong support of union members across the industry."
So where does this leave things with the WGA/AMPTP writers' strike, now on its 33rd day? And let's not forget that SAG-AFTRA is prepping for its own negotiations with AMPTP – with a Monday/5 pm deadline set for SAG-AFTRA members to vote to authorize a strike after their contract expires at the end of the month. Based on early reactions from WGA members on social media, there's an expectation that AMPTP will use the DGA deal as a public relations weapon to make the WGA look like they're the ones being stubborn & not willing to negotiate. The DGA deal also gives the AMPTP a template to use in their negotiations with SAG-AFTRA – and if SAG-AFTRA signs a deal before the end of June, the WGA could find itself backed into a corner (though the WGA is fighting for issues that don't overlap with the DGA or SAG-AFTRA, giving the union specific positioning).
Along with what its saying will be increased transparency on the part of the studios when it comes to reporting residuals, improvements in diversity & inclusion initiatives, Juneteenth becoming a paid holiday, and other gains, here's an outline (courtesy of Deadline Hollywood) of what the DGA says the new agreement brings on a number of key topics:
Wages and Benefits: Groundbreaking gains in wages and benefits including a 5% increase in the first year of the contract, 4% in the second year and 3.5% in the third year. Additional 0.5% to fund a new parental leave benefit.
Global Streaming Residuals: Substantial increase in the residuals for dramatic programs made for SVOD by securing a new residual structure to pay foreign residuals. The result is a 76% increase in foreign residuals for the largest platforms so that residuals for a one-hour episode will now be roughly $90,000 for the first three exhibition years.
Artificial Intelligence: Groundbreaking agreement confirming that AI is not a person and that generative AI cannot replace the duties performed by members.
Non-Dramatic Programs: Established the industry's first-ever terms and conditions for directors and their teams on non-dramatic (Variety and Reality) programs made for SVOD. Improved residuals and for the first time, Associate Directors and Stage Managers will now share in the residuals.
High Budget AVOD Terms and Conditions: Achieved the industry's first-ever terms, creative rights protections, working conditions and residuals for scripted dramatic projects made for free to the consumer streaming services such as Freevee, Tubi and Roku. Unit Production Managers and Assistant Directors will share in the residuals.
Feature Directors: Historic first-time compensation for the months of "soft prep" Feature Directors currently perform for free prior to the start of the director's official prep period.
Episodic Directors: For Pay TV and SVOD, Episodic Directors won expanded paid post-production creative rights; and gained an additional guaranteed shoot day for one-hour programs – the first additional day added in more than 40 years.
Reduction in Hours: Unprecedented reduction in the length of the Assistant Director's day by one hour.
Safety: Achieved concrete safety advancements including the first-ever pilot program to require the employment of dedicated safety supervisors; expanded safety training programs for both directors and their teams, and the ban of live ammunition on set.
"This deal recognizes the future of our industry is global and respects the unique and essential role of directors and their teams as we move into that future," said DGA president Lesli Linka Glatter on Saturday in a statement. "As each new technology brings about major change, this deal ensures that each of the DGA's 19,000 members can share in the success we all create together. The unprecedented gains in this deal are a credit to the excellent work, tenacity, and preparation of our Negotiations Committee. I am so proud of the phenomenal leadership and dedication of Negotiations Chair Jon Avnet, Co-Chairs Karen Gaviola and Todd Holland and our Chief Negotiator, National Executive Director Russ Hollander, and our more than 80-member Negotiations Committee. I'm also incredibly grateful to the DGA staff, who worked tirelessly for the past year and a half to achieve this excellent deal." National Executive Director Russ Hollander added, "Every member of our union can be proud of the gains we've achieved across the board. Significantly, and for the first time ever, global SVOD residuals will be paid based on the number of international subscribers. The result is a 76% increase in foreign residuals for the biggest services. As our industry becomes increasingly global, these gains are imperative to ensuring our members are valued and compensated for their incredible work."
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