After less than a month of negotiations, the Directors Guild and Hollywood’s top studios and streamers have struck a tentative deal on a new three-year labor contract.
Details of the agreement between the union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) include gains in wages and benefits, streaming residuals, AI protections and more. (Full details are below.) Union leaders will need to lay out what they perceive to be the gains and compromises in the contract to members in the coming days before members ultimately participate in a ratification vote. The ratification vote has been set for Tuesday.
The new deal arrives after the DGA and AMPTP spent all day Saturday at the negotiating table.
“We have concluded a truly historic deal,” said Jon Avnet, chair of the DGA’s Negotiations Committee. “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 essential role of directors and their teams as we move into that future,” said Lesli Linka Glatter, President of the DGA. “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.”
The DGA went into negotiations with an unusually grave tone on May 10. Beyond the fact that a writers’ strike had erupted before its leaders walked into the room, the labor group had been warning its 19,000 members for months that this round of talks with studios and streamers would be difficult, and strayed from its usual practice of negotiating far in advance of the contract’s expiration in the hopes that doing so would provide its negotiators with more leverage. The union also appeared to be preparing to mobilize its members quickly by creating an “outreach team” dedicated to handling internal communications and building unity.
“Every member of our union can be proud of the gains we’ve achieved across the board,” said Russell Hollander, National Executive Director of the DGA. “Significantly, and for the first time ever, global SVOD residuals will be paid based on the number of international subscribers. The result is an 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.”
One of the DGA’s major pushes in these talks was to institute a streaming residual that reflects the growth of streaming platforms worldwide. The union argued that its Streaming Video On Demand (SVOD) residual is based primarily on the number of platform subscribers in North America, while the numbers of global subscribers count less, as employers pay a fraction of the domestic residuals rate to compensate for them.
The union was also looking to improve data transparency from studios and streamers, codify new safety and diversity, equity and inclusion measures, protect the union’s health and pension plan, raise wage floors and support contractual creative rights for members.
If the DGA made significant headway in areas such as streaming residuals and/or data transparency, its deal could have some minor ramifications for the ongoing writers’ strike. The Writers Guild of America went out on strike on May 2 after that union and the AMPTP could not reach an agreement on a slate of issues including residuals and data transparency. A DGA deal could offer a template to compromise on those particular points for the WGA. Still, the latter union largely has proposals (including many of its key asks) on the table that don’t have any overlap with the DGA’s demands and it remains unlikely that DGA progress on residuals and data transparency would change the game for writers.
In a letter to members June 1, the WGA re-asserted its position that the AMPTP “will have to negotiate with the WGA on our full agenda” no matter if one of the other unions — i.e. the DGA — agrees to a new contract.
On Wednesday, May 31, as the directors entered their last week of negotiations, a coalition of unions including the WGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and the Teamsters said in a statement that they “stand alongside our sisters, brothers, and kin in the DGA in their pursuit of a fair contract.” The group added, “As eyes around the world again turn towards the negotiation table, we send a clear message to the AMPTP: Our solidarity is not to be underestimated. The Hollywood guilds and unions stand united, and we stand strong.”
DGA national executive director Russell Hollander led talks for the union, while AMPTP president Carol Lombardini led discussions for studios and streamers.
Here are details on the new contract:
· 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.