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DGA starts talking (soon); Tom Short states


So the DGA has announced a resumption of talks — we’ll have more about that in the print edition of Union Roundup, which we’ll also post here, shortly — and there are two telling paragraphs in their announcement, the first, from their press release:

But now the situation is dire. The WGA-AMPTP impasse has cost the jobs of tens of thousands of entertainment-industry workers, including many of our own members, and more lose their jobs every day the strike continues. With so much at stake and no end to the standoff in sight, we can no longer abdicate our responsibility to our own members. Because we want to give the WGA and the AMPTP more time to return to the negotiating table to conclude an agreement, the DGA will not schedule our negotiations to begin until after the New Year, and then, only if an appropriate basis for negotiations can be established

That sounds well and good, sort of, if you’re the WGA. Until you realize it’s actually a deadline, to get things done. Or else. That “else” was in their letter to members:

In short, we have been waiting and watching for months. But now, with no end to the current impasse in sight, we find ourselves having to ask the hard question: is it now our turn to sit across from the AMPTP? We believe the answer to that question lies in one simple truth. We cannot abdicate our responsibility to all of you, the DGA membership, expect us to fight for you. We promised you we would do just that. We believe that the preparation and determination DGA traditionally brings to the table, combined with our fresh perspective, is what is needed to get the job done.

In other words, the DGA will arrive at a digital/internet formula with producers, if writers don’t. And then the pressure will ratchet up on the scribes to settle — for whatever the DGA agrees to — so everyone can hold on to their houses, etc., in the face of next year’s unfolding recession.

Hard on the heels of DGA’s announcement, the IA’s Thomas Short issued another of his strike-related pronouncements. To wit:

IATSE fully supports the Directors Guild’s desire to try and get the industry working again by announcing that they will consider entering their own negotiations after the beginning of the New Year. The DGA has chosen to do something very difficult and I am sure those who don’t want the strike to end will attack them for it. But while sound bites may make good press copy, they are no substitute for the kind of good faith bargaining it will take to end this strike.

“To the crewmembers – the thousands of editors, cinematographers, set designers, costumers, art directors, grips and so many others that IATSE represents — the Writers’ strike is not a party. Every day that the current labor stoppage continues, it wreaks havoc on the lives of about one- half of the IATSE’s over 110,000 members, their families and others who are part of our industry. Work is being shut down and IATSE members and so many others are now faced with the reality of losing their homes, their savings and their livelihoods.

“I said this was the likely outcome of the WGA approach months ago. The WGA and the AMPTP must now get down to business and hammer out a fair deal. Our hope is that the DGA’s announcement will spur them to do just that. If it turns out they can’t, then for the sake of all the working people in our industry, the DGA deserves a chance to bring its voice of reason to the table.”

The other unions, in other words, won’t have the WGA’s back too much longer, in the new year. And for all their co-coordinating, SAG won’t be able to add a strike of their own, if the directors settle in the meantime.

When we think of film being — fairly or otherwise — a “director’s medium,” no one thought that meant “in labor negotiations, too.” But depending what happens in the next few weeks, it could mean just that. Even in television. Which is supposed to belong to the writers.

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