A preliminary labor agreement has been reached between Hollywood’s major studios and the union representing film and television directors, potentially preventing a work stoppage that would have put pressure on media companies to resolve issues with striking writers.
The Directors Guild of America (DGA) will seek approval from its 19,000 members for the three-year contract, which was announced after three weeks of negotiations on Saturday.
The agreement, as stated by the DGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents major studios including Netflix, Walt Disney Co, and others, includes improvements in wages and residuals, as well as provisions addressing the use of artificial intelligence.
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has been on strike since May 2, leading to the suspension of several TV and film productions. Currently, there are no scheduled talks between the WGA and the studios.
During the previous WGA strike in 2007-2008, a deal between the studios and the DGA prompted the writers to resume negotiations. However, WGA negotiator Chris Keyser argued that this strategy would not be effective this time.
Keyser stated in a YouTube video, “Any agreement that brings this industry back to work must involve the WGA, and there is no way around that.”
The DGA’s board will review the deal on Tuesday before presenting it to the members for ratification. The date for the ratification vote has not been set yet.
If approved, the agreement could serve as a model for the striking writers and upcoming discussions between the studios and SAG-AFTRA, the union representing Hollywood actors.
Representatives from the WGA did not comment on Sunday, but some writers expressed their reactions on social media. Steven DeKnight, creator of “Spartacus,” described the DGA deal as “disappointing but not surprising.” Writer Bill Wolkoff expressed mixed emotions, saying, “I’m happy for the gains made by DGA members, but frustrated that all our demands were ignored. My determination is even stronger.”
The DGA agreement grants directors wage increases of 5% in the first year, increased residuals from streaming, and an assurance that “generative AI cannot replace the duties performed by members.”
Artificial intelligence has become a major concern for writers and actors, who view their jobs as particularly susceptible to this new technology.
Both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA are seeking safeguards against AI in their negotiations, along with better compensation to address the industry’s shift towards streaming television.
SAG-AFTRA has asked its members to authorize its negotiators to call for a strike if necessary, and the results of the vote are expected to be announced on Monday. Contract discussions between actors and studios are set to commence on Wednesday. The current labor agreement expires on June 30.
The WGA strike has disrupted the production of late-night shows and halted prominent projects such as Netflix’s “Stranger Things” and a spinoff of “Game of Thrones.”