Members of the Directors Guild of America have voted to ratify the deal that union negotiators struck with studios and streamers in early June.
Eighty-seven percent of the union voted in favor of the deal in a referendum that ended June 23 13 percent voted against. Forty-one percent of the union’s 16,321 eligible voting members — a group that includes directors, assistant directors, unit production managers and stage managers — turned out to vote. The union phrased this as a turnout level that “surpassed any previous DGA ratification vote”.
“I am proud to announce that DGA members have united to ratify a new contract that will allow every director, assistant director, unit production manager, assistant director and stage manager to share in the success of what we are creating,” says DGA president Lesli. Linka Glatter said in a statement. “Our new contract brings pay gains, global streaming residuals, safety, diversity and creative rights that build the future and impact every category of member in our Guild.”
The new contract will start on July 1 and run until June 30, 2026.
During the voting period, the details of the agreement received mixed reactions from union members who spoke to it The Hollywood Reporter at the beginning of the voting period. While some members were excited about the broad reach of the gains and their impact on many constituencies within the union, others publicly stated that they felt the artificial intelligence provision in the deal was not airtight enough, disappointed that streamer data transparency was not addressed, saying the DGA had squandered the unusual influence of the writers’ strike.
“There are huge gaps that need to be addressed. Chief among these is that we need to return to an industry that rewards performance and success, rather than the one-size-fits-all revenue model we are currently moving towards,” said CEO Peter Atencio (The machine) told THR earlier in the month.
Another DGA member who voted “yes” said of union negotiators, “They’ve made significant gains. You have to remember that the deal they had before they entered into negotiations was already so much better than what we have at the WGA, so everything what they add is a plus.
The DGA broke recent precedent by announcing the percentage of ‘yes’ votes and turnout this year; in the last few negotiating cycles, the union has not announced that information, saying instead that their previous deals were ratified by “an overwhelming margin”. DGA turnout this year was relatively large for a Hollywood union: the last time the Writers Guild of America reported its turnout, in 2017, that figure was 36.7 percent, compared to 15 percent in 2014. SAG-AFTRA in its last two negotiating cycles was 27.2 percent and 15.3 percent, respectively.
Yet the union’s turnout was not as high as that of the IATSE union in 2021, at a time when members complained of long hours and grueling working conditions as companies tried to get more product into the pipeline following COVID-19-induced manufacturing delays. That year, 72 percent of eligible IATSE members turned out to vote.
With their contract talks sandwiched between those of the Writers Guild of America (which went on strike during the negotiations) and SAG-AFTRA (which voted a strike authorization ahead of theirs), the DGA was under enormous pressure in 2023 to get a good deal for its members. The tentative pact with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers was reached around midnight on June 3 after a long day of negotiations on Saturday, with proposed changes to the contract that DGA Negotiating Committee Chairman Jon Avnet called “historic.”
In her statement on Friday, Linka Glatter acknowledged that “the DGA was not negotiating in a vacuum,” nodding to the writers’ strike that was underway as the union negotiated. She added: “We support the actors who are negotiating and the writers who continue to strike, and we will support the IA and Teamsters when they negotiate their agreement next year. We are not satisfied until we all have fair contracts that reward us for our creative work. We need to create a vibrant, sustainable industry that values us all fairly.”
In the months leading up to the negotiations, the guild seemed willing to compete in this round of negotiations. The DGA scrapped early, informal talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) – in recent years the DGA has usually opted to negotiate early because the group believes this approach can improve its influence – and ended negotiations they followed the discussions of the WGA. The guild sent messages to its members warning them of a particularly difficult negotiating environment, and formed an “outreach team” to mobilize its members during talks. The guild has never been known to be combative in discussions with employers; this approach suggested that it was at least preparing for combat.
The DGA’s chief negotiator in 2023 was National Executive Director Russell Hollander, working alongside Negotiation Chair Jon Avnet and Co-Chairs Karen Gaviola and Todd Holland and a committee of more than 80 members. When it came to creative rights, Thomas Schlamme and Nicole Kassell helped lead discussions for the union. AMPTP President Carol Lombardini led talks for the entertainment companies.