The Directors Guild is waiting for the moment “when we believe we have the most leverage to win” to begin official 2023 contract negotiations with studios and streamers, according to two union leaders.
The Guild, which bargains on behalf of directors, assistant directors, unit production managers and others, updated its members on Monday that bargaining dates for their core film and television contract have not yet been scheduled. Both the DGA’s Basic Agreement and Freelance Live and Tape Television Agreement expire on June 30, 2023.
“When it comes to making the decision about when to start negotiations, we are guided by one simple principle: we will only begin bargaining when we believe we have the most leverage to win the best possible deal for DGA Directors and their teams,” DGA negotiations chair Jon Avnet and national executive director Russell Hollander said in the message. “Some years, that means we have negotiated early, but only when the Studios agree to address our priorities and we are confident we can extract a premium for providing them with the security they need to plan their summer and fall schedules… Other times, we have had more leverage closer to contract expiration.”
Leverage for the DGA this year may depend upon the state of talks with other industry unions. The Writers Guild of America’s pact expires on May 1, while SAG-AFTRA’s TV/Theatrical contracts also expire on June 30. At a time when whispers of a potential writers’ strike are growing louder, the DGA appears to be keeping its options open.
Still, as in their communication with membership in November about the round of upcoming talks, Avnet and Hollander cautioned that economic headwinds will test the union’s position. “This year promises to be an extremely challenging negotiating environment – one of the most difficult and complex we have faced in many years – with studios continuing to consolidate and become increasingly vertically integrated, and with extraordinary economic headwinds facing our industry and our nation,” the leaders wrote. “In this environment, your strength and support will be more important than ever.”
Without going into specifics, Guild leaders have previously stated that boosting streaming residuals and wage increases will be core priorities for the union this round of talks. Also on their to-do list: codifying new on-set safety standards, protecting the Guild’s health and pension plans, supporting industry diversity and gaining more transparency from employers.
In December, The Hollywood Reporter reported that the Guild had begun informal talks with employers prior to scheduling official bargaining sessions, a move that irked the Writers Guild. Avnet is serving as chair on the Guild’s 2023 Feature Film and Television Negotiations Committee, with Todd Holland and Karen Gaviola serving as co-chairs. Hollander, who has been with the union for over 20 years, will again oversee talks as chief negotiator.