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DGA leaders said their upcoming contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers “promises to be an extremely challenging negotiating environment – one of the most difficult and complex we have faced in many years.”

The guild’s current contract expires on June 30. While no date has been set yet for the commencement of the talks, Hollander and Avnet said that the guild “has been preparing for bargaining for more than a year and a half, listening to the concerns of our members, researching the issues, and consulting with industry experts, so we are in the best possible position to achieve our goals. Our strategic bargaining process is designed to ensure that we reach the strongest contract possible – a goal we can achieve because of your participation and your voice at the table. Our diverse negotiating committees represent every corner of our membership, and they have been working consistently to ensure your priorities will be reflected during bargaining.”

DGA leaders said, “When it comes to deciding when to start negotiations, we are guided by one simple principle: we will only begin bargaining when we believe we have the most leverage to win the best possible deal for DGA Directors and their teams.”

DGA National Executive Director Russell Hollander and DGA negotiations chair Jon Avnet said in a communique to members that the upcoming talks will be made all the more difficult “with studios continuing to consolidate and become increasingly vertically integrated and with extraordinary economic headwinds facing our industry and our nation.”

“In this environment,” they told members, “your strength and support will be more important than ever. We are committed to fighting for an entertainment industry that is fair, safe, equitable, sustainable, and accessible for all. We all have a stake in wages, streaming residuals, health and pension plan funding, and more. And we are committed to ensuring that the work and contributions of directors and their teams are respected.”

“Some years, we have negotiated early, but only when the studios agree to address our priorities. We are confident we can extract a premium for providing them with the security they need to plan their summer and fall schedules. We have used this strategy quite successfully in the past, such as in our healthcare deals in 2004 and 2010 and our 2014 negotiations when we won the industry’s first-ever residuals formula for original SVOD projects. Other times, we have had more leverage closer to contract expiration.”

“For almost a century,” they said, “we have leveraged these strategies to make strong, fair deals for our members. In 1939, we won our first contract after Frank Capra called the producers’ bluff, knowing he had every leading director solidly backing him up. Since then, we have negotiated successive contracts to win fair wages, secure residuals that ensure our members are fairly compensated for the reuse of their work, and establish the DGA’s Pension & Health Plans to protect our members in their retirements. In 2008, we made a game-changing deal amid a rapidly shifting media environment, becoming the first union to establish jurisdiction and residuals for original content made for new media. We also negotiated strong contract language that has allowed us and our fellow guilds to challenge arbitration studio self-dealing successfully. And we continue to improve on our gains every time we negotiate.”

The DGA leaders pledged to their members that with six months to go before the expiration of the DGA contract, “We will start communicating with you more frequently about the bargaining preparations, the issues, and what’s at stake. As the process moves forward, we want you to be informed so you can engage and communicate with your guild representatives.

“Our industry continues to evolve rapidly, but no matter how many changes we face, one principle holds steady: the work we create as directors and members of the directorial team continues to entertain billions worldwide. For our industry to thrive, we must build a creative and economic model that allows us to share in the success of what we make.

“This year’s negotiations are about more than bargaining a strong contract for the next three years – they’re about setting the course for the future of our industry and ensuring the sustainability of hundreds of thousands of good, union jobs.”

– Excerpt from an article for Deadline by David Robb. Read the full article here.


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