Striking Writers Respond to DGA’s Tentative Deal With Studios, Streamers

Striking Writers Respond to DGA’s Tentative Deal With Studios, Streamers
Jun 2023

With issues including protections against the use of "mini-rooms" and "span," the WGA still has a number of proposals on the table that are not going to be impacted by the Directors Guild's deal with the AMPTP.

As the Writers Guild enters its second calendar month of a strike, a key alliance in its fight for increased residuals, wages and AI protections has struck a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

In a tentative deal that is poised to be submitted for approval Tuesday to its National Board, the Directors Guild of America spent all day Saturday at the table and reached a tentative agreement with the AMPTP just before midnight Sunday. The three-year agreement sees the 19,000-member guild receive pay and benefits gains, increases in global streaming residuals and protections against the use of artificial intelligence, which sources say was the last sticking point to a deal that came after less than a month of negotiations with the AMPTP. The DGA's current contract, along with that of SAG-AFTRA, expires June 30. The actors branch currently has members voting to authorize a strike, should its negotiating committee call for one.

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As one of its key talking points, the Writers Guild of America has stressed unity with other guilds in its ongoing strike against the AMPTP over such issues as streaming transparency, wage increases and AI safeguards. While the DGA was wildly expected to close a deal with the AMPTP and avoid a strike of its own, the tentative deal -- dubbed "historic" by its leadership -- has not gone over well with members of the Writers Guild.

"Thrilled that the DGA was able to use the power of the WGA's labor action to secure a deal that works for them," writer Amy Berg (Jack Ryan, Warrior Nun) wrote early Sunday. "We proposed a number of these terms...before the AMPTP cut off negotiations in order to hand a deal to the DGA. They will continue to not speak to us, offering them next to SAG. But we have needs in areas they don't, and will secure a deal that works for us. This isn't it. Also keep in mind that SAG is due to announce the results of their strike authorization vote and getting this done quickly is an attempt to undermine its impact. Between that and the strike, the DGA was situated well to get something that works for them. For them, not us."

The WGA issued a statement on the DGA's tentative new deal on Sunday.

"We congratulate the DGA Negotiating Committee for getting a deal they are recommending to their National Board for approval and presumably will then send to their membership for ratification," the WGA said. "Out of respect for the DGA's ratification process and in recognition of not knowing the contract language they have negotiated, we won't be commenting on their deal points. Our own bargaining positions remain the same as they were on May 1, 2023.

"Last week we sent an email about how the AMPTP divide and conquer strategy won't work this time. The AMPTP will not be able to negotiate a deal for writers with anyone but us. Today that message and the video about the path to a deal with the WGA is even more timely."

SAG-AFTRA issued its own statement via Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, national executive director and chief negotiator, who also congratulated the DGA but said it would be "premature" to comment on the tentative deal since the actors guild leadership hasn't had time to review it. SAG-AFTRA begins its negotiations with the AMPTP on Wednesday; it has set a strike authorization vote deadline for 5 p.m. Monday.

"As we have done throughout this process, we will remain in close communication with our sister unions, especially the WGA and the DGA, and we will seek to capitalize on the insights we have gained from their bargaining process and progress they have made on common issues," Crabtree-Ireland wrote to the guild's members. "Of course, the needs of SAG-AFTRA members are unique, and each and every area of focus in our negotiations is directed to serving those interests.

"Our bargaining strategy has never relied upon nor been dependent on the outcome or status of any other union's negotiations, nor do we subscribe to the philosophy that the terms of deals made with other unions bind us. We continue to stand in strong solidarity with the members of the WGA and with their strike, and we congratulate the DGA on their bargaining and look forward to reviewing the detailed terms of their agreement as soon as possible."

Zero surprise. The AMPTP continues to use their tired old playbook. And the DGA sadly continues to toe the line, knowing that they can draft off of the WGA's resolve to strike for a truly historic deal. Disappointing, but not surprising. https://t.co/BLQ4SvcQuO

I don't know about the rest of you, but this DGA "historic deal" only makes me fired up to strike until we get every damn thing we asked for. I'll strike for years. I'll strike with a sign in my cold dead hand from my coffin at 100. It'll say, "I'd rather die than rewrite AI" pic.twitter.com/UtowrUApeU

#typical. Now the #AMPTP will play up to the press that the #WGA is being difficult if they don't accept the same terms, even though their membership's needs are totally different from most #DGA members, who are below-the-line crew, not directors.https://t.co/CQrxksVJYp

We all draft off of each other. DGA gets a better deal because we're striking. Then SAG, with, in theory, a strike authorization vote in hand, uses the the DGA deal to build on. And then we hopefully build on that.

How bad must the DGA negotiating committee be that the WGA strike gifted them all the leverage in the world and they only made demands that the AMPTP were comfortable agreeing to. https://t.co/1VjyRMo71T

Now that the #DGA has a deal, in part due to the leverage from the #WGAStrike, it would be classy if some of their members showed up on our picket lines with signage in support of their sister unions getting a fair deal. #WGAStrong 1/3

Honestly, I have zero feelings good or bad about DGA deal. A. Expected it. B. I was taught to always focus on taking care of my own yard. And so we march on with purpose and vigor and we don't stop till we our satisfied and ratified. #WGAStrong

DGA gonna DGA, folks. Nothing new here. I think a lot of people who are really paying attention to this for the first time are surprised/disappointed but it's important to internalize that the DGA will never save us - no matter how vocal their support. https://t.co/YTefTPm3SU

Day 34. Many of us are waking up to news of the DGA deal. Just as many (me ???) went to bed with it and were up too late as a result. I have mixed emotions: happy for gains DGA members made, frustrated we were stonewalled on all our asks. My resolve is only stronger. #WGAStrong pic.twitter.com/deP7fepqGt

Just a reminder they made a deal with the DGA in hopes of pitting us against each other. Don't fall for it. The enemy is not the DGA it's the AMPTP. Mini ?

Historically, a DGA deal would be used as a template for the studios and streamers to apply to other guilds. That, however, is not expected to happen during the WGA's negotiations considering a number of its proposals impact only writers and not actors or directors. While the WGA had been seeking AI protections as well, issues specific to writers include protections against "span" and the use of "mini-rooms," among others.

"Since there isn't a ton of overlap with us I don't see this having a huge impact on the current WGA strike but only time will tell," writer Phillip Iscove (Station 19, Sleepy Hollow) posted.

Seeing a bunch of folks saying the AMPTP cut a deal with the DGA and not the writers because "they don't respect us."
To me it feels like the opposite. Like they will do whatever they can to undermine and weaken us, because our solidarity is real power.

As a director, I'm glad to hear negotiations were fruitful. As a writer, I fear this means the strike will last a long time, though we'll have to see what the actors do...https://t.co/HaducdVIat via @thr

"as well as securing essential protections for our members on new key issues like artificial intelligence - ensuring DGA members will not be replaced by technological advances." So they'll give that to directors but not writers, cool, we see where we stand. https://t.co/2TA5vG7Apf

As a member of both @WGAWest and @directorsguild I'll be happy with new "historic" DGA deal if it means it brings AMPTP back to the table & creates similar history for the writers

Waking up to find out the DGA and AMPTP cut a deal in middle of night on a Sunday that over 3 years with inflation looks like could be a pay cut, has a clause for AI we asked for in WGA and were refused, and how many friends in DGA wanted more solidarity with all of us, is a lot. https://t.co/9KDl2xmqVx

As a DGA member this deal looks great. As a WGA member, this deal is proof the AMPTP just doesn't respect writers. The fact that you can make an historic deal with the people who can't even do their jobs until writers do theirs screams all you need to know about the AMPTP. https://t.co/2A6WwDsICt

Updated 5:48 p.m. Sunday, June 4: Added the WGA statement.

Updated 6:10 p.m. Sunday, June 4: Added the SAG-AFTRA statement.