Apr 20, 2023

The Directors Guild Lays Groundwork To Disenfranchise Writers Guild Strike

Where is the support for the writers? Without the script no one has a job. However, the DGA has issued a stern reminder to members that they have a strict no strike policy. But why?

Image: DGA

The DGA has a “no-strike” clause in its contract, which promises its members will continue to work even if the WGA initiates a strike over the terms of its agreement with the studios. The union representing directors, unit production managers and assistant directors reminded its more than 19,000 members on Tuesday in a union wide email of the DGA’s “no-strike” clause with studios and streamers. This clause, common in labor contracts, requires that the union “will not call or engage in or assist any strike, slow-down or stoppage of work affecting motion picture production” over the course of its current pact, which expires June 30. The clause also requires that the DGA “will use its best efforts in good faith to require its members to perform their services for the Employer “even if other industry unions are on strike.” But again, we must ask the vital question: WHY? Verbage like this continues to disenfranchise the creatives who bring the work to life. Writers are being left in the dust and this kind of verbage is destructive to productive changes that reflect the working environments, changes in streaming and viewing and frankly the inflation we’re all facing today. The verbage in their contract is nothing more than a broad gag order that doesn’t let other unions ask for equitable pay, as is their right.

99% of the WGA membership is in agreement of a strike if it needs to happen. This will mainly effect television in the immediate but will also affect all productions if it drags out.  The writers’ union could call a strike as soon as May 1, though a work stoppage still isn’t guaranteed and depends on the outcome of current negotiations with studios and streamers. The bottomline is streamers need to pay. If HBO and other premium channels can pay living wages in residuals and acquisitions to writers so can streamers with their pay to watch policy just like cable and the streamers continued raises in price points is also arguable for better more equitable pay to writers, and actors, and directors. All of it needs a massive overhaul, these contracts have been outdated for over a decade.

Interestingly enough, the DGA did note, in it’s message to members, that even though “our no-strike clauses are clear,” members cannot be forced to work. “If you, as an individual, refuse to cross a picket line and perform your DGA-covered services, then your Employer has the right to replace you; if you have a personal services agreement, you may be subject to claims for breach of contract,” Glatter and Hollander stated.

Many directors are also writers. The DGA let members know that those who belong both to the WGA and the DGA, would be advised by the DGA that if they are working on a project only as a member of the DGA and not as a writer, “then you must continue working.” If a worker is employed as both a writer and a member of the DGA, “we will provide you with additional information after the WGA issues its strike rules,” the guild said.

The DGA is currently scheduled to enter into negotiations with the AMPTP on May 10. Will they join hands with the WGA? We hope so. We hope for better living wages for everyone and not just the 1% in the guilds making millions. Remember the middle class.