DGA Warns Members About Crossing Picket Line In Event of Writers Strike – The Hollywood Reporter

The Directors Guild of America has warned members that if they do not cross the picket line if the entertainment industry’s writers go on strike, they could face employer repercussions.

The union representing directors, unit production managers and assistant directors reminded its more than 19,000 members on Tuesday in a message obtained by The Hollywood Reporter of the DGA’s “no-strike” clause with studios and streamers. This clause, common in labor contracts, requires 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.

After industry scribes overwhelmingly a strike earlier this week, the writers’ union could call a strike as soon as May 1, though a work stoppage still isn’t guaranteed and depends on the outcome of current negotiations with studios and streamers.

“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.”

The DGA does note, however, that even though “our no-strike clauses are clear,” members 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,” Glatter and Hollander stated.

For members who belong both to the WGA and the DGA, the directors’ union advised that if they are working on a project only as a member of the DGA and not as a writer, “then you must continue working.” If a worker is 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.

Said a source who is a member of both the DGA and WGA, “It’s a real quandary. I can’t in good conscience cross a picket line.”

In its communication this week, the DGA was quick to note that it doesn’t know if the WGA will go on strike once its film and television contract expires on May 1. The writers’ guild remains in negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the latter of which on Monday issued a statement noting that its goal is to reach a “fair and reasonable agreement.”

The DGA is currently scheduled to enter into negotiations with the AMPTP on May 10. Even if the writers do go on strike after their contract expires on May 1, the union assured its members that a potential work stoppage would not affect the start of their negotiations. “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,” Glatter and Hollander wrote.

The DGA has been preparing its members for months for a contentious round of negotiations this spring. It will be “one of the most difficult and complex we have faced in many years,” leaders told members earlier this year. The Guild is seeking to improve streaming residuals for members, implement new safety standards, gain greater transparency from employers, shore up their health and pension plans and make progress on diversity initiatives.

The implications of a potential writers’ strike also has at least one other union reaching out to members. Last week, the president of crew union IATSE sent out a message saying that “it has come to our attention that certain companies may be inquiring as to whether or not you intend to honor a picket line at your workplace,” and called such inquiries “a violation of your rights under the National Labor Relations Act.”

Kim Masters contributed reporting.

April 20, 11:10 a.m. Updated with DGA comments about members’ rights if they refuse to cross a picket line and contents of recent IATSE message.

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