Directors Guild puts off talks with Hollywood studios in a sign of broader labor unrest

The Directors Guild of America headquarters
The Directors Guild of America headquarters in Los Angeles.
(Chris Pizzello / Invision/Associated Press)
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In a change from its usual practice in recent years, the Directors Guild of America has decided to not go into contract talks early, and will instead wait until later this spring, closer to when its bargaining agreement with Hollywood studios is set to expire.

In a statement to its 19,000 members Saturday evening, the union said its 80-person negotiating committee had unanimously decided it was not in its interest to begin negotiations well in advance of its contract expiration on June 30. In many of the bargaining rounds since the last Hollywood strike in 2007, the DGA has gone before the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA, setting the benchmark for the other unions. This time, the guild said it will negotiate only when it believes it will win the best deal.

“At this point the studios are not yet prepared to address our key issues,” the union negotiating committee’s chair, Jon Avnet, and co-chairs, Karen Gaviola, Todd Holland and national executive director Russ Hollander, said in a joint statement.


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

“If the studios do not address these issues, they know we are prepared to fight,” the union told its members.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios in bargaining, had no immediate comment.

The decision potentially means the Writers Guild, the Hollywood union that has gone on strike most often, might be able to set the tone for this year’s bargaining as its contract expires in May, before the DGA’s. The last time the DGA did not go first in negotiations was in 2011, and the last time the Writers Guild went first was in 2007.

The DGA said that over the last 18 months it has been preparing for bargaining by conducting research and consulting with industry experts. It also conducts preliminary conversations with studios to broach the key issues for its members. It is as a result of these talks that the union said it decided that studios were not ready to address its concerns.

The union said in its statement that it has won some of its biggest gains during negotiations by waiting until closer to the expiration of its contract.


It said timing of the talks was not the most important issue but whether the studios will address the areas its members are concerned about — namely wages, streaming residuals, safety, creative rights and diversity.

The DGA has gone on strike only once, briefly, in its 87-year history, in 1987.

The contracts for writers and actors also expire next year, setting the stage for a turbulent year of bargaining in Hollywood amid rapid shifts in entertainment.

Nov. 17, 2022