DGA Strike Averted? Guild Reaches Tentative Agreement with AMPTP

In what has to be seen as a blow to solidarity with the writers who’ve been striking since the start of May 2023, the Directors Guild of America has reached a tentative agreement with the AMPTP that will avert a strike of its own.

The DGA’s new three-year collective bargaining agreement with the studios appears to satisfy the guild’s demands for appropriate compensation related to streaming residuals and the international distribution of their work, as well as offer new protections for creative rights (including against AI) and safety issues.

The deal still needs to be presented to the DGA’s National Board, but includes these highlights:

  • A 76 percent increase on international residuals for work created for the largest platforms, so that a one-hour episode will now pay out roughly $90,000 in residuals over the first three years.
  • A new parental leave benefit.
  • Terms and conditions set for directors (as well as associate directors and stage managers) on non-dramatic (variety and reality) programs made for streaming.
  • Acknowledgement that “AI is not a person” and generative AI cannot replace actual directors.
  • New terms and conditions for directors (and unit production managers and assistant directors) working for free streaming services such as Tubi, Freevee, and Roku.
  • Compensation for “soft prep” period for feature directors.
  • Episodic directors given one additional guaranteed shoot day for a one-hour program.
  • Ban of live ammunition on set, as well as new requirements for safety supervisors and training.
  • Reducing Assistant Director’s day by one hour.

“We have concluded a truly historic deal,” said Jon Avnet, chair of the DGA’s Negotiations Committee, in an official statement. “It provides significant improvements for every Director, Assistant Director, Unit Production Manager, Associate Director and Stage Manager in our Guild. 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.”

“This deal recognizes the future of our industry is global and respects the unique and essentialrole of directors and their teams as we move into that future,” said Lesli Linka Glatter, President of the DGA, 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.”

When the DGA made a similar deal in January 2008, it was widely believed to be a move toward forcing the then striking Writers Guild of America to resolve its own demands to the studios in a less satisfactory way for its membership. However, SAG-AFTRA has not announced any agreement with the studios in its own collective bargaining agreement renegotiation, which will likely be more fraught than the DGA’s given the critical threat of AI to actors’ rights to their own image and performances. It’s possible then that the DGA deal won’t have the same effect on pushing the writers to accept a lesser deal.

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