The union that represents thousands of movie and television directors reached a tentative agreement with the Hollywood studios on a three-year contract early Sunday morning, a deal that ensures labor peace with one major guild as the writers’ strike enters its sixth week.
The Directors Guild of America announced in a statement overnight that it had made “unprecedented gains,” including improvements in wages and streaming residuals (a type of royalty), as well as guardrails around artificial intelligence.
“We have concluded a truly historic deal,” Jon Avnet, the chair of the DGA’s negotiating committee, said in the statement. “It provides significant improvements for every director, assistant director, unit production manager, associate director and stage manager in our guild.” The deal prevents the doomsday Hollywood scenario of three major unions striking simultaneously.
On Wednesday, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which bargains on behalf of the studios, will begin negotiations for a new contract with SAG-AFTRA, the guild that represents actors; their current agreement expires on June 30.
The entertainment industry will be looking closely at what the directors’ deal — and the actors’ negotiations — will mean for the Writers Guild of America, the union that represents the writers. More than 11,000 writers went on strike in early May, bringing many Hollywood productions to a halt. Over the last month, the writers have enjoyed a wave of solidarity from other unions that WGA leaders have said they have not seen in generations. Whether a directors’ deal — or a possible actors’ deal later this month — undercuts that solidarity is now an open question.
WGA leaders had been signaling to writers late last week that a deal with the directors could be in the offing, a strategy that it said was part of the studio “playbook” to “divide and conquer.” The writers and the studios left the bargaining table on May 1 very far apart on the major issues, and have not resumed negotiations. “They pretended they couldn’t negotiate with the WGA in May because of negotiations with the DGA,” the WGA negotiating committee told writers in an email on Thursday. “That’s a lie. It’s a choice they made in hope of breathing life into the divide and conquer strategy. The essence of the strategy is to make deals with some unions and tell the rest that’s all there is. It’s gaslighting, and it only works if unions are divided. “Our position is clear: To resolve the strike, the companies will have to negotiate with the WGA on our full agenda,” the email continued.
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