The Directors Guild announced on its website today that it will begin negotiations with the AMPTP (studio alliance) in mid-November, which is immediately after the scheduled end of 45 days of negotiation between the AMPTP and SAG (Screen Actors Guild) & AFTRA (a smaller performers union).
The DGA contract (like those of SAG, AFTRA and the WGA) expires in mid-2011, but the DGA always negotiates early. Still, the announcement puts enormous pressure on SAG and AFTRA to conclude an agreement in October or early November of this year. If they don’t, the DGA will step in and do a deal first, setting a template that SAG and AFTRA may not like. Indeed, the announcement also says that the DGA will engage in informal discussions with the AMPTP before mid-November, which will prepare the DGA to do a deal promptly before the holiday season sucks the wind out of the town.
The prospect of the DGA stepping in, and the fact that it will negotiate informally even before then, could reduce SAG and AFTRA’s leverage, though at least one industry observer familiar with the situation said that SAG does not consider the DGA scheduling a cause for concern. Still, the DGA timing may reduce the likelihood of significant change in the new media provisions of the contracts, unless the DGA is pushing for the same changes as well. Hopefully, SAG, AFTRA and the DGA will coordinate their proposals. The timing of the DGA negotiations increases the likelihood that they will.
SAG, AFTRA and the AMPTP declined to comment.
The DGA announcement is below.
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Negotiations Announcement from DGA President Taylor Hackford and Negotiations Chair Gil Cates (April 28, 2010)
"We have reached an understanding with the AMPTP to begin formal negotiations for a new agreement in mid-November of this year, after the scheduled AFTRA-SAG negotiations begin on October 1.
"As is our custom, we will engage with the AMPTP to clarify and narrow the issues before the beginning of formal negotiations. We will use these discussions to confirm that both parties are committed to negotiating a fair agreement that will protect the economic and creative rights of DGA members while accomplishing the important objective of keeping our industry working in this challenging period.
"Following our traditional practice, the DGA began serious preparations for these negotiations well in advance of our contract expiration. In January, the National Board appointed Gil Cates as Negotiations Chair. Our consultants and research department have begun updating our business and revenue forecasts and assimilating the data collected in the last few years. Our councils, committees and staff have also begun their work to identify issues and prepare proposals.
"Our full Negotiating Committee will be appointed in June and will begin meeting this summer to prepare the DGA proposals.
“We wholeheartedly support SAG's and AFTRA's decision to move forward with joint negotiations and wish them every success when they begin their own negotiations with the AMPTP in October."