The Directors Guild of America has just announced that its members have voted to ratify their new contract, bringing the industry one step closer to establishing labor peace.
On Friday, the DGA made the announcement that the membership had voted in favor of the accord by a majority of 87%, with just 41% of members participating in the poll. The guild said that the turnout for the ratification vote was the greatest it had ever been, with 6,728 members voting out of 16,321 eligible members.
The guild’s top priority entering into the negotiations was a 76% increase in foreign streaming residuals, and the resulting contract incorporates this increase. In addition to that, it incorporates a “second cut” for TV directors as well as a pilot program for set safety. Additionally, it advances the time that overtime penalties begin for assistant directors forward by one hour.
Since the announcement of the provisional agreement on June 3, the DGA has conducted a number of member meetings, both in-person and by Zoom video conferencing. The specifics of the agreement, which also include clauses on artificial intelligence, family leave, and rises in minimums of 5% in the first year, followed by increases in minimums of 4% and 3.5%, have been explained by the leadership.
It is expected that the arrangement with the DGA will be the least difficult obstacle for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to overcome. In its entire history, the DGA has only ever gone on strike once, and that was in 1987 for just a few minutes.
The negotiations between the AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA, which represents 160,000 performers, are still ongoing. This contract will be terminated on the 30th of June, and if a new agreement is not negotiated by then, the leadership may call for a strike.
The next step is for the AMPTP to negotiate a settlement with the Writers Guild of America, which has been on strike for fifty-three days at this point. The studio group normally aims to apply the conditions of one guild to the other two in a practice known as “pattern bargaining,” but SAG-AFTRA and the WGA have both stated that they will not be bound by the provisions of the contract that the DGA has negotiated.
During interviews, DGA members largely voiced their approval of the agreement; nevertheless, several individuals voiced concerns with the AI wording.
The AI provision is the first of its kind to be included in any guild contract. It declares that generative AI does not constitute a “person,” and that it will not replace the activities that are usually carried out by guild members. However, it does not ban AI and requires merely “consultation” on how AI will be utilized in the creative process. This is in contrast to other laws that ban AI. It also does not include any regulations controlling how AI systems can be educated, which are significant concerns for the Writers Guild of America and the Actors’ Equity Association.
As a show of support for the WGA strike, the majority of writer-directors who are also members of the DGA have gone on record as saying they will cast their vote against the proposal.
A number of writers have also voiced their disagreement with the DGA’s decision to reach an agreement publicly, stating that it would have been more prudent for the DGA to delay ratifying the agreement until the writers have a contract.
In a statement, the President of the Directors Union of America (DGA), Lesli Linka Glatter, acknowledged that the union “didn’t bargain in a vacuum.” This was a veiled acknowledgment to those who claimed that the writer’s strike increased the directors’ bargaining power.
“We stand united with writers, actors, and all crew members in our shared fight to move our industry forward,” Glatter stated. “Our industry needs all of us to work together to make this happen.” “We will stand with the IA and Teamsters when they negotiate their agreement next year. We support the actors who are in negotiations and the writers who are still on strike.” “We support the actors who are in negotiations and the writers who are still on strike.” We won’t be pleased until we all have fair contracts that reward us for our creative labor; we need to create a thriving, sustainable industry that fairly values each and every one of us.
If the members of the DGA had voted against the agreement, the parties involved in the negotiation would have been required to return to the negotiating table.
The norm of the DGA is to say that members voted to ratify by an “overwhelming” margin, but they do not reveal the tally in their announcements.
The actual results of the voting have not been made public by the guild since 1996, which was the year that the contract was adopted with a vote of 2,949 to 112, or 96.3% in favor.