DGA Message: Get Off Your Ass and Settle this Strike

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The Directors Guild of America has been holding off negotiating their contract with the AMPTP for about two months now. The DGA traditionally gets their contract negotiated quickly and relatively quietly. However, with the Writers Strike firmly in place it makes sense that the DGA didn’t want to step on any toes and get their contract negotiated and settled while their sister guild is still at war and in the trenches.

In an article I posted two days ago I quoted WGA negotiating committee chair John Bowman who commented on whether or not DGA negotiations would undermine the WGA negotiations to which he said, “No. It would create a horribly tense situation with the DGA and us and SAG. I know that they don’t want to do that, and I don’t know why they would — they don’t have to.”

Well, John, while the DGA is willing to give you guys a couple more weeks it looks like they will be moving on despite your current slapfest with the AMPTP. Here is the latest letter posted by DGA prez Michael Apted:

December 13, 2007

Dear Members,

As you know, the negotiations between the Writers Guild and the AMPTP once again broke down last week and the strike has continued. All along, it has been the sincere hope of the DGA that these talks would be successful and lead to a fair deal for talent. We are sorry this has not been the case.

With the current work stoppage now in its sixth week, we know the situation has become grave—and is getting worse with each passing day. Already, a number of feature films have been cancelled or postponed, and we are now perilously close to losing both the 2007-2008 television season and the 2008 pilot season—a loss that would have a devastating effect not only on DGA members but on the industry as a whole.

The DGA has always believed that the most effective way to start the process of negotiating is to begin that process early. That belief—proven by experience—has guided us through the last 20 years of negotiations. This year has been different. Out of respect for the WGA, we held off for months in order to give the writers a chance to make a deal. We also refrained from commenting publicly about the nature of their proposals and the progress of their negotiations. At the same time, while we didn’t proceed with our negotiations, we did not stop our own preparations which began in earnest in 2006. During that time we put considerable DGA time and financial resources into hiring the best outside consultants and experts in new media, the future of technology, and business analysis. Over this time, they have made a number of presentations to the DGA Leadership and the National Board, all the while continuing to analyze and refine the data with DGA staff. Our 50-member Negotiations Committee has also continued to meet regularly with our staff and these outside consultants to discuss and refine our priorities and proposals.

In short, we have been waiting and watching for months. But now, with no end to the current impasse in sight, we find ourselves having to ask the hard question: is it now our turn to sit across from the AMPTP? We believe the answer to that question lies in one simple truth. We cannot abdicate our responsibility to all of you, the DGA membership. You expect us to fight for you. We promised you we would do just that. We believe that the preparation and determination DGA traditionally brings to the table, combined with our fresh perspective, is what is needed to get the job done.

The issue is not between the DGA and the WGA. Those who want to make that the fight only strengthen our true adversaries. The real issue is how to ensure that we get the best and most equitable deal for DGA members. With this first and foremost in our minds, we have decided that the DGA must go forward with our own negotiations. In order to give the WGA and the AMPTP one last chance to get back to the table, we will not schedule our negotiations to begin until after the New Year, and then only if an appropriate basis for negotiations can be established. If it can, then the DGA will commence formal talks with the AMPTP in the hope that our bargaining strength and fresh perspective can help achieve a good and fair outcome for all concerned.

Sincerely,

Michael Apted
DGA President

Now the question is whether or not the WGA and AMPTP can come up with a solution before the end of the year. Based on what I have seen the two groups wouldn’t be able to agree on what toppings to get on a pizza.