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DGA Chief Lesli Linka Glatter Blasts Studios As “Threat” To Union Jobs, Won’t “Share Fairly” As Streaming Grows

“Make no mistake: the current position of the studios is a threat to the economic model that for decades has protected tens of thousands of good, union jobs in our industry,” says Directors Guild of America president Lesli Linka Glatter today, one week after the Writers Guild went out on strike.

“Like many others, we had hoped the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers would reach a fair and reasonable agreement during the WGA’s negotiating window,” Glatter added in her statement this morning. “But despite six weeks of negotiations, the AMPTP refused to adequately address the writers’ core issues and concerns.” (See the full statement below)

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The message early Tuesday from Glatter comes one week exactly since the WGA went on the picket lines for the first time in 15 years, and one day before the DGA is set to start their own negotiations with the AMPTP.

In language expanding on what she exclusively told Deadline on May 6, Glatter today says those talks with the AMPTP will be about “securing wage increases that address inflation, and ensuring the strength and sustainability of our pension and health plans. It means negotiating meaningful increases and thoughtful, forward-thinking structural changes to residuals formulas that allow us to share in the global growth of streaming. These are goals we share with our sister guilds.”

The first term guild boss also says the DGA’s other goals in their upcoming talks are to “protect the role and vision of directors, especially as the shift to streaming upends traditional production models. It means protecting our jurisdiction over projects produced abroad for U.S. audiences, and establishing minimum terms and conditions to protect and compensate our members.’

The DGA’s 80-person negotiating committee aims to craft an agreement with the Carol Lombardini-led AMPTP before the nearly 20,000-member strong guild’s current contract expires on June 30. In this brittle labor environment, the art of finding that deal falls on the DGA’s Jon Avnet and negotiation co-chairs Todd Holland and Karen Gaviola.

As with all Tinseltown guilds this round, the DGA has been openly supportive of the more strident WGA and its efforts. DGA leaders have appeared at rallies on both coasts in the past weeks and issues numerous missives of in the past few months leading up to last week’s strike call. While not hitting the pause button on talks with the AMPTP, as some optimistic writers had hoped, the DGA in February relinquished its traditional opening spot in studios talks, and let the scribes go first. Having said that, the Directors Guild did conduct informal “pre-conditions” talks with the studios late last year (as Deadline revealed back on March 20), but those “preliminary conversations,” as the guild politely termed them, proved DOA over at the AMPTP.

Since 2008, when the DGA made a deal with the studios that many scribes still feel undercut their position and brought that 100-day long labor action to a close, there has been varying degrees of tension between the DGA and the writers over self-interest vs solidarity.

In the week since the WGA’s own talks with the producers, studios, and streamers came to a withering end just hours before that guild’s contract expired, there have been no formal conversations with the AMPTP.

After the WGA pulled the pin and announced a strike on the evening of May 1, thousands of scribes and supporters have taken to picket lines in LA and New York. Consequently, as pencils have come down, more continuing shows have shuttered on both coasts with Teamsters and others refusing to cross picket lines. For the Hyphenates, DGA members who are also WGA members, going to work every day as contractually obliged has caused tensions both professionally and personally.

Where they will in six weeks, where the whole town will be in six weeks in what many are saying may be Hollywood’s summer of strike, could be riding on the DGA.

Read DGA chief Glatter’s full statement here:

On Wednesday, the Directors Guild of America will begin negotiations with the major Hollywood Studios. We’re going to fight — no matter what it takes — for a strong contract that treats our members fairly and allows us to share in the success of an evolving entertainment industry.

We know this will be a difficult challenge. But we will not yield from the premise that has sustained our industry for the last century: When artists succeed, everyone succeeds.

That’s why this year’s negotiations are about more than reaching a fair agreement for the next three years — they’re about setting the course for the future of our industry.

Like many others, we had hoped the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers would reach a fair and reasonable agreement during the WGA’s negotiating window. But despite six weeks of negotiations, the AMPTP refused to adequately address the writers’ core issues and concerns.

Now, with our contract expiring on June 30, we have a legal and contractual obligation to begin bargaining. And equally important, we have a responsibility to our 19,000 members to negotiate the best deal we possibly can, and we take that commitment extremely seriously.

SAG-AFTRA’s contract also expires June 30. They have announced they will sit down with the studios on June 7, which leaves us a small window to negotiate. We are going to take full advantage of that window to sit across from the AMPTP and fight for our members’ priorities.

As a longtime working director, I know how big the stakes are in this fight. Many directors and members of our teams don’t know when the next project will come around, and they rely on fair, regular residuals to sustain them in between. As we all know, current wages simply aren’t keeping up with the skyrocketing cost of living.

At the same time, the studios who employ us have merged or been bought by vertically integrated behemoths with control over both production and distribution. Their business models have shifted, and they have largely stopped selling the films and television programs we create on the open market, in order to maximize their streaming platforms here and abroad, which has had a huge impact on our residuals.

And as their streaming platforms have gained millions of subscribers around the world, they haven’t allowed directors and our teams to share fairly in the international growth of these platforms or the global distribution of our work.

Make no mistake: the current position of the studios is a threat to the economic model that for decades has protected tens of thousands of good, union jobs in our industry. The studios have built their businesses on the creative talent of directors, writers, actors, producers, craftspeople and other artisans across the industry and today our voices are strong and clear and in solidarity. If the studios want our partnership, they should act like our partners.

We are clear on our priorities. Our approach to negotiations this year, just as it has always been, is to follow where our extensive research leads us. Our Negotiations Committee, made up of more than 80 members from all categories, genres and geographic areas, has been working for over a year developing proposals that will protect our members, now and in the future. We are extraordinarily prepared to begin conversations with the studios, equipped with thorough research and analysis of industry trends.

We are ready to fight for a strong, fair contract that treats our members fairly and reinforces our shared interest in building a vibrant and sustainable industry.

What does that mean? In these negotiations, it means securing wage increases that address inflation, and ensuring the strength and sustainability of our pension and health plans. It means negotiating meaningful increases and thoughtful, forward-thinking structural changes to residuals formulas that allow us to share in the global growth of streaming. These are goals we share with our sister guilds.

It also means fighting to protect the role and vision of directors, especially as the shift to streaming upends traditional production models. It means protecting our jurisdiction over projects produced abroad for U.S. audiences, and establishing minimum terms and conditions to protect and compensate our members.

It means leading the industry on safety by expanding and encouraging training and addressing long workdays. It means increasing diversity and strengthening the voices of underrepresented people throughout the industry. And it means looking out for the full directorial team – the Assistant Directors, Unit Production Managers, Associate Directors and Stage Managers who sustain every production with their hard labor and professionalism.

To be sure, the coming weeks won’t be easy. There’s no disputing that our industry faces an uncertain economic climate. But the issues we’re bringing to the table are essential, and the studios must be prepared to invest more in us, in directors and directorial teams, and in all our collaborative partners. In this team sport of ours, we are only as good as our teams.

We always have — and we always will — fight for our future. We’re going to stand together to win a strong contract that values our work the same way it’s valued by billions of people around the world.

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