DGA President Lesli Linka Glatter Says At DGA Awards That Guild Will “Fight Like Hell” For Fair Film & TV Contract

Directors Guild President Lesli Linka Glatter, speaking tonight at the 75th Annual DGA Awards, vowed that the guild will “fight like hell” later this spring to win a fair film and TV contract – and not just for current members, but for generations to come.

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“These negotiations are about more than just bargaining a strong contract for the next three years – they are about setting the course for the future of our industry,” she told the members, nominees and guests gathered in the main ballroom at the Beverly Hilton. “The DGA is prepared and ready to fight for an excellent deal to protect the future for directors and their teams – and that is exactly what we are going to achieve.”

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Earlier this month, DGA leaders told their members that the DGA won’t be the first guild at the bargaining table with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers this year because “the studios are not yet prepared to address our key issues.” That’s a break from recent tradition, as the DGA has gone before the WGA and SAG-AFTRA in each of the last three three-year bargaining cycles. The last time the DGA didn’t go first was in 2010, when pre-merger SAG and AFTRA came to the bargaining table first. The last time the WGA went first, back in 2007, resulted in a 100-day writers’ strike.

DGA leaders, however, have stressed that “The date we begin to bargain is far from the most important issue. The more important issue at stake is whether the studios will decide to appropriately address the concerns of our members. Those concerns include wages, streaming residuals, safety, creative rights and diversity. If the studios do not address these issues, they know we are prepared to fight.”

Founded in 1936, the DGA has only struck once in its entire history – back in 1987 – and that strike only lasted for 15 minutes on the West Coast and for three hours and 15 minutes on the East Coast before the DGA got what it wanted, and a deal was reached. The DGA’s current contract expires on June 30 – the same day as SAG-AFTRA’s and two months after the May 1 expiration of the WGA’s contract. No announcement has been made yet about who will go first this time – the WGA or SAG-AFTRA.

In her welcoming remarks tonight, Glatter told the assembled members that “in this ever-changing, complicated and sometimes hostile environment for creative people in our industry, we are committed to ensuring that creative excellence and economic stability continue so you can realize your vision. And I can guarantee you one thing – the DGA is going to fight like hell to protect that future for our directors and their teams.

“And you can take comfort in the fact that we have done so many, many times before. Any quick look back at the bedrock accomplishments of our past 80-plus years demonstrates just how much we have achieved for our members: world-class pension and health plans for ourselves and our families; lucrative residual formulas that allow us to share in the economic success of our work, including being the first union to negotiate and establish jurisdiction and residuals in new media; impressive wage gains; safer working conditions, and creative rights gains that are the standard-bearer for directors world-wide.

“Each of these gains is an important reminder that our contracts are always in the service of nurturing your art and to provide you the opportunity to create excellence in all genres.”

Praising the “brilliant” leadership of Russell Hollander, the guild’s national executive director and chief negotiator, Glatter said: “Later this spring, we will be back at the table. And rest assured – we will be ready. It comes down to this: we are all partners in this business. Partners. Which means negotiating a new contract that continues to treat our members fairly and with respect that recognizes and rewards our vital contributions to this industry no matter how it evolves, that reinforces our shared interest in building a healthy, vibrant, stable business that will entertain and inspire audiences around the world.

“And with the strong leadership of our Negotiations Chairman Jon Avnet, Co-chairs Todd Holland and Karen Gaviola and Russ (Hollander) as our Chief Negotiator, we are in excellent hands.”

Before introducing Judd Apatow, the host of tonight’s awards gala, Glatter thanked Hollander “and your hard-working team who are ready for the battles ahead to protect and grow the creative and economic rights of our members. When directors and their teams have the creative license to take risks, we can build worlds and soar, knowing our visions are guarded by our creative rights protections; from having our director’s cut; the right to be involved with all creative decisions; protecting the idea of one director to a film or TV episode, among so many other rights established through many years of DGA contracts.

“And equally important, when directors and their teams have economic freedom to take jobs that pay appropriately; are provided pension and health benefits, and earn residuals for the re-use of their work, we are able to concentrate on our artistry and vision, not just about surviving. Which is why these issues are so critical to us.”

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