If members of the Writers Guild East and West decide to strike when the contract with AMPTP expires on May 1, it’s expected that other guilds, including SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and the Directors Guild of America (DGA) will honor the walk-out. Now, comes word that the DGA has instructed members to cross the potential picket lines.
The guild, which represents more than 19,000 directors, unit production managers and assistant directors warned that members who stand with the WGA could face employer repercussions. This comes from a message obtained Tuesday by The Hollywood Reporter.
The DGA has a “no-strike” clause in its contract with the networks and studios and states that the union “will not call or engage in or assist any strike, slow-down or stoppage of work affecting motion picture production” over the course of its current pact, which expires June 30.
The clause also requires that the DGA “will use its best efforts in good faith to require its members to perform their services for the Employer” even if other industry unions are on strike.
“It is an essential element of our Basic Agreement that the Guild not only refrain from striking during the term of the Basic Agreement, but also that the Guild assure Employers that our members will continue to perform DGA-covered services during the term of the Basic Agreement,” DGA president Lesli Linka Glatter and national executive director Russell Hollander said in the message, which sought to answer questions following the WGA’s strike authorization vote. “These provisions are treated very seriously by the companies and the courts, and we take these obligations very seriously as well.”
Read the entire memo below:
1. Will the WGA strike?
We do not know. The WGA Minimum Basic Agreement does not expire until May 1, 2023, and the parties will be bargaining at least through that date. The strike authorization vote does not necessarily mean that there will be a strike, it simply gives the WGA leadership the authority to call a strike on or after their contract expiration date.
If there is no agreement by May 1, the WGA has the right to call a strike. Depending on the status of negotiations, they could choose not to do so. If there is no strike, writers would continue to work under the terms of the expired collective bargaining agreement. That situation would continue until there is a strike or an agreement.
2. If there is a WGA strike, what is expected of me as a DGA member?
Like most collective bargaining agreements, the DGA Basic Agreement contains a “no strike clause.”
The no strike clause provides:
The Guild agrees that during the term hereof it will not call or engage in or assist any strike, slow-down or stoppage of work affecting motion picture production against the Employer and, in return, the Employer agrees during the term hereof not to lock out Employees covered by the BA.
The no strike clause further provides:
The Guild agrees that it will use its best efforts in good faith to require its members to perform their services for the Employer, even though other persons or groups of persons may be on strike…
Thus, it is an essential element of our Basic Agreement that the Guild not only refrain from striking during the term of the Basic Agreement, but also that the Guild assure Employers that our members will continue to perform DGA-covered services during the term of the Basic Agreement. These provisions are treated very seriously by the companies and the courts, and we take these obligations very seriously as well.
The Network and Freelance Live and Tape Television Agreements contain no-strike clauses that are quite similar to that in the Basic Agreement, and likewise require DGA members employed under these agreements to continue to perform DGA-covered services during their term.
Our no-strike clauses are clear. However, as an individual, you cannot be forced to work. If you, as an individual, refuse to cross a picket line and perform your DGA-covered services, then your Employer has the right to replace you; if you have a personal services agreement, you may be subject to claims for breach of contract.
3. What if I am also a WGA member?
If you are a dual WGA/DGA member employed on the picture or program only in a DGA-covered category and not as a writer, then you must continue working.
If you are also employed on the program or picture as a writer, we will provide you with additional information after the WGA issues its strike rules.
4. Does a potential WGA strike affect the start of our Negotiations?
It does not. Our major contracts expire on June 30, 2023 and we will be starting our bargaining on May 10 as announced last month. We have a fiduciary responsibility to you, our members, to achieve the best possible deal. In addition, we have a legal and contractual obligation to bargain in good faith, and we intend to honor that commitment.
SAG/AFTRA’s contracts also expire on June 30, and they are scheduled to enter negotiations immediately after us on June 7, giving each Guild a window to negotiate a fair deal. We are continuing our preparations to negotiate your core issues — wages, streaming residuals, health and pension plans, creative rights, diversity and safety — led by our Negotiating Committee, made up of more than 80 members from all categories, genres, and geographic areas.
5. How can I keep abreast of developments?
The DGA will continue to keep our members informed via email, the DGA website www.dga.org and through our Negotiations Outreach Team leaders.
In addition, you can call the Contract Services Hotline during regular business hours if you have questions, or email email@example.com. The hotline is for members only, not agents, lawyers, business managers or press. Staff will only be answering questions based on a member’s specific employment situation. You will be expected to give your name and your member number as this hotline is for actual, not theoretical, employment situations. Please have your questions ready in advance and recognize that there may be high call volume at first. Your call will be returned as soon as possible as we want to answer your questions.
We will continue to closely monitor the situation and will be communicating new developments as they arise. We can assure you that your Guild is strong, confident and prepared to take on the challenges ahead as we continue the fight for our future.
If DGA members are also in the WGA, they are advised to continue working if they are not employed as a writer. If they are employed as both a writer and a member of the DGA, “we will provide you with additional information after the WGA issues its strike rules,” the guild said.
The DGA does note, however, that even though “our no-strike clauses are clear,” members cannot be forced to work.
The WGA remains in negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The DGA is currently scheduled to enter into negotiations with the AMPTP on May 10.