Directors Guild ratifies breakthrough contract

Wed Feb 20, 2008 9:10pm EST
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood directors gave their final stamp of approval on Wednesday to a contract deal that helped pave the way for a settlement of the damaging 101-day strike by screenwriters against film and TV studios.

The three-year pact between the studios and the Directors Guild of America (DGA) was endorsed by an overwhelming majority of union members in the ratification vote, conducted by mail.

In keeping with past policy, the DGA declined to reveal how many of its 13,500 members cast ballots or the exact margin of approval.

A statement by DGA President Michael Apted, whose directing credits include the James Bond film "The World Is Not Enough," said the vote "reflects the strong support and enthusiasm our members have for our new contract."

Recommended for ratification by the DGA governing board on January 27, the contract goes into effect on July 1, covering directors, assistant directors and unit production managers.

Apted cited gains the union achieved in such areas as basic wages, residual fees and the union's health plan.

But the contract was most notable for provisions to pay union members more for work distributed over the Internet -- a key sticking point in the labor dispute with screenwriters.

The DGA's deal led to a resumption of negotiations between the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and studios after weeks of stalemate and ultimately served as a template for the pact that settled the 14-week strike by 10,500 WGA members.   Continued...

<p>Members of the Writers Guild of America carry signs on the picket line at NBC studios in Burbank, California February 8, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>