DGA Leaders Explain Members’ Rights & Responsibilities In The Event Of WGA Strike

DGA leaders have informed their members of their rights and responsibilities in the event of a writers strike against the studios.

In an email to members dated April 18, DGA president Lesli Linka Glatter and National Executive Director Russell Hollander laid out the terms of the guild’s no-strike clauses, which require members to keep working even if there is a strike by another union. They note, however, that while the guild’s “no-strike clauses are clear … 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.”

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Similar messages were sent to the DGA’s members in advance of the WGA’s 2007-08 strike and ahead of a threatened writers strike in 2017.

Here’s their message in full:

Dear Member:

Yesterday, the WGA announced that their membership has approved the strike authorization requested by their leadership. We hope the WGA and the AMPTP can successfully negotiate their contract. However, we recognize that the possibility of a writers’ strike creates widespread uncertainty about its potential impact. This email will attempt to answer some of the most common questions DGA members have regarding their rights and responsibilities should a WGA strike occur.

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 (800.277.3603) during regular business hours if you have questions, or email [email protected]. 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.


Lesli Linka Glatter Directors Guild of America President

Russell Hollander National Executive Director

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