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DGA, the Guild That Didn’t Strike, Gets Improved Contract Terms

The Directors Guild of America, the Hollywood union that did not strike last year, told members Thursday that it has won additional gains, including a viewership bonus for streaming shows.

DGA members will get a 50% residual bump for work on the most-watched shows on streaming platforms, matching the terms won by the Writers Guild of America.

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The DGA also got increases in several other areas, including a .5% increase in pension and health contributions in both the second and third year of the contract.

The DGA agreed to a three-year deal with the major studios on June 3, about a month into the WGA strike. At the time, DGA negotiators did not seek a viewership-based bonus, instead choosing to focus on a 21% increase in streaming residuals to account for the growth in foreign subscribers.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers was not obligated to reopen the terms of that deal, which was ratified by 87% of the members. But by doing so, and matching the streaming residual terms obtained by the WGA, the AMPTP helps DGA leadership make the case to its members that they were not disadvantaged by refusing to strike.

At the time of the ratification vote, some members argued that the DGA should have done more to support the WGA, either by holding out for better terms or by refusing to ratify the agreement until the WGA got its own deal.

The WGA strike ended on Sept. 27. The WGA deal included the DGA’s 21% increase, as well as a 50% bonus for writers whose shows are watched by 20% of a platform’s subscribers within 90 days of release.

In its message to members, the DGA said the viewership-based residual will be modest at first, but could become more significant in subsequent rounds of bargaining.

“Although this will not impact a large number of DGA members, it opens the door to additional compensation tied to the success of a project in future negotiations,” the guild wrote.

SAG-AFTRA also went on strike last year and ended up with the best streaming bonus of the three guilds — a 75% increase over standard residuals for actors appearing on the most-watched shows. Another 25% will go into a jointly administered fund that will be distributed to a broader group of streaming performers.

The AMPTP did not immediately comment on the updated DGA terms.

The DGA told members that the additional gains followed “months of advocacy and difficult discussions with the AMPTP.”

According to the union, the deal also does away with reduced rates for assistant directors and unit production managers on pilots and the first two seasons of a streaming or pay TV show. The general wage increases — 5% in the first year, followed by increases of 4% and 3.5% — will now also include directors on streaming and pay TV shows as well. Under the original terms, they received only a 3% increase in the first year.

“For almost nine decades, the DGA has fought to protect and extend the creative and economic rights of directors and members of the directorial team,” a DGA spokesperson said in a statement. “Understanding the urgent needs of our members after a difficult year, we’re proud to have achieved these gains and protected the Guild’s Pension and Health Plans. We will never stop fighting on behalf of our members.”

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