SAG-AFTRA and Directors Guild contracts expire


Contracts between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and both the Directors Guild of America (DGA) and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) expire June 30. With 11,500 television and film writers on strike since May 2, neither union has indicated that it has plans for joint action to resist the attacks of the giant conglomerates and shut down the industry.

The DGA, with 19,000 members working as television and film directors, assistant directors, unit production managers and in other positions, began formal bargaining with the AMPTP June 7. The union has not yet called a strike authorization vote.

The SAG-AFTRA headquarters in Los Angeles, California. [Photo by Ishmael Daro / CC BY-SA 2.0]

Like the writers, DGA members face worsening of working and living conditions, demanding schedules and the increasingly precarious character of their jobs, in additional to inadequate residuals.

The list of the DGA’s demands that it has made public, in outline form, includes “securing wage increases that address inflation, maintaining the strength and sustainability of our world-class pension and health care plans” and “negotiating meaningful increases and structural changes to streaming residual formulas that account for the global growth of the audience.”

The Guild also promises to protect “the role and vision of Directors” and to fight for improvements in “safety on the set by expanding and encouraging training and addressing long workdays.” This comes in the wake of the October 2021 incident on the set of the low-budget film Rust that resulted in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding of director Joel Souza.

For a wage increase to address inflation, it would require beating it. As for “meaningful increases” to streaming residuals, the DGA has claimed that they had accomplished this goal in both of the last two rounds of negotiations. In December 2016, according to the Los Angeles Times, “While the guild didn’t release details of the new structure, it said the deal more than triples residuals for members working on original content for the biggest streaming companies.” But three times a pittance is still a pittance.

Long and dangerous workdays, as the Rust episode tragically revealed, are a major issue.

Assistant director Nicole on the picket line supporting writers. [Photo: WSWS]

The WSWS recently spoke to an assistant director, Nicole, on the writers’ strike picket line, who offered some insight into current conditions.

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