The Directors Guild of America (D.G.A.) and Hollywood studios have reached a tentative agreement on a three-year contract, bringing labour peace to the industry as the writers’ strike continues into its sixth week. The D.G.A. announced “unprecedented gains” in wages, streaming residuals, and protection against artificial intelligence (AI). The deal prevents a scenario where three major unions would strike simultaneously, with negotiations between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and SAG-AFTRA, the actors’ guild, set to begin soon. This agreement, along with potential deals for actors, raises questions about the solidarity of the Writers Guild of America (W.G.A.), whose strike has halted numerous Hollywood productions.
A Broad Coalition
The writers’ union has received support from other unions throughout the strike, but the impact of the directors’ agreement and potential actors’ deals on their solidarity remains uncertain. W.G.A. leaders suggested that a deal with the directors was part of a studio “playbook” to divide and conquer the unions. While negotiations between writers and studios broke down on May 1, the studios claimed they couldn’t negotiate with the W.G.A. due to ongoing negotiations with the D.G.A. The W.G.A. maintained that the studios needed to negotiate with them on their full agenda to resolve the strike.
Writers and directors shared some priorities, including wages, streaming residuals, and concerns about AI. The D.G.A. received a ground-breaking agreement confirming that AI is not a person and that generative AI cannot replace the duties performed by its members. However, the writers’ demands are more complex, with the W.G.A. describing the dispute as existential and accusing the studios of trying to destroy the writing profession. Writers have argued that despite the growth in television production, their wages have stagnated, and working conditions have worsened. They seek improvements in compensation, job security, and staffing minimums in writers’ rooms.
Despite the challenges, the W.G.A. remains determined to fight for its demands. The union has historically demonstrated unity and is bolstered by support from other guilds and unions. Chris Keyser, a chair of the W.G.A. bargaining committee, expressed confidence in their ability to achieve a favourable deal using writer power alone.
The D.G.A.’s agreement with Hollywood studios provides significant improvements for directors, assistant directors, unit production managers, associate directors, and stage managers. It sets a positive precedent for negotiations between the studios and SAG-AFTRA. However, the fate of the writers’ strike and the resolution of their demands still hang in the balance. The entertainment industry watches closely to see how the directors’ agreement and potential actors’ deals may affect the solidarity and eventual outcome of the W.G.A.’s strike.