Directors Guild postpones talks with Hollywood studios

Unlike recent years, the Directors Guild of America has decided not to enter contract negotiations early, instead waiting until later this spring, closer to when its contract with Hollywood Studios expires.

In a statement to its 19,000 members on Saturday night, the union said its 80-member bargaining committee had unanimously decided it was not in their interest to begin negotiations well before the contract expired on June 30, following the last Hollywood strike in 2007 the DGA preceded the Writers Guild and SAG-AFTRA and set the standard for the other unions. This time the guild said they will only negotiate if they think they will win the best deal.

“At this point, the studios are not ready to address our key issues,” Union Bargaining Committee Chair Jon Avnet and Co-Chairs Karen Gaviola, Todd Holland and National Executive Russ Hollander said in a joint statement.

The decision highlights the rift that exists between studios and Hollywood workers on key issues such as wages and streaming residuals, a rift some believe is so wide that it has become the entertainment industry’s first major strike since March 15 years. The Directors Guild has been uncharacteristically vocal in recent months about how difficult it expects this year’s contract negotiations to be.

“If the studios don’t address these issues, they know we’re ready to fight,” the union told its members. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios in negotiations, initially did not comment.

The decision potentially means the Writers Guild of America, the Hollywood union that has struck the most, may be able to set the tone for this year’s negotiations as its contract expires before the DGA’s in May. The last time the DGA didn’t take first place in the negotiations was 2011, and the last time the Writers Guild took first place was in 2007.

DGA said it had spent the past 18 months preparing for negotiations by conducting research and consulting with industry experts. It also includes preliminary meetings with studios to address the most important issues for its members. As a result of those talks, the union said it had decided the studios were unwilling to address their concerns.

The union said in its statement that it had made some of its biggest gains during the negotiations by waiting until contract expiry was near.

It said timing of the talks isn’t the most important issue, but rather whether the studios will address the areas of concern to their members – namely wages, streaming leftovers, security, creative rights and diversity.

The DGA has only briefly gone on strike once in its 87-year history, in 1987. Directors Guild postpones talks with Hollywood studios

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