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Directors Guild to begin contract talks with studios on May 10 in pursuit of higher pay, benefits

The Directors Guild of America will begin negotiations with Hollywood studios on May 10, the union said Monday. The union’s contract expires on June 30.

The move formalizes another piece in the bargaining sequence for the film and television industry’s top collective bargaining units.

The historically more militant Writers Guild of America will be the first to start this year’s negotiating cycle, having already scheduled its first showdown with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on March 20. SAG-AFTRA, which represents artists, has yet to announce a date for talks to begin. The actor’s union contract also expires on June 30.

The DGA said in January it was in no rush to begin talks with the studios, suggesting a wide gap between the two sides over terms of negotiations. Typically, the union has started negotiations early, months before the contract expires, when it felt the studios were ready to address their biggest concerns.

The decision to start talks comes despite no substantive talks between the two sides in recent weeks, said a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly.

“We will continue to focus on achieving a fair contract that will enable you to participate in the global growth of this industry and the dissemination of your work around the world,” said DGA negotiating chair Jon Avnet, National Executive Director Russell Hollander, and co-chairs Karen Gaviola and Todd Holland said in a statement.

The DGA’s main goals include higher wages, which have been eroded by inflation; securing more funding for its health and retirement plans and increasing streaming residuals – the fees collected by directors and others after the first airings of shows.

The union also told members on Monday it wanted to address the impact of vertical integration and so-called self-dealing (where studios produce and distribute content), as well as studios’ increasingly international focus.