Leaders of the DGA said tonight that the major studios “have committed to two weeks of pay” for many non-director members who lost their jobs because of the coronavirus shutdown of film and television production, and that the guild has been “fast-tracking residuals” payments worth “tens of millions of dollars so you would have this important source of income in your hands immediately.” The guild is also offering “leniency” on dues for members who can’t afford to pay because of the shutdown.
Below-the-line (non-director) DGA jobs include assistant directors, unit production managers, stage managers and production associates.
“As the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on our health, our work, our community and the overall economy continues to unfold, your Guild is working hard for you,” DGA president Thomas Schlamme and national executive director Russ Hollander said tonight in their latest message to their members. “With film, television and commercial production suspended for the time being, and our members in news working hard to keep the world informed – we have been in contact with so many of you who have shared what’s on your minds. While the situation continues to remain fluid, we know you are seeking certainty in a sea of unknowns. Your Guild is here for you to be that beacon as we continue to fight on the front lines. For your protection. For your rights. And for your peace of mind.”
You can read the full message here.
“Our contracts staff and field representatives have been working nonstop, connecting with hundreds of members about their individual work situations, and advocating on their behalf,” they said. “They’ve been in constant contact with studios, networks and other employers, our sister guilds and unions, agents and entertainment lawyers. As part of that work, the major studios have committed to two weeks of pay to carry our below-the-line members impacted by production shutdowns, and we are in talks with other employers demanding they do the same or better. We are also working hard to secure relief for directors. For those of you who work in news, we are pushing the Networks and Local Stations to provide a safe workplace.
“In anticipation of the current ‘Stay at Home’ order that’s been instituted, our Residuals department (and staff from other departments) worked around the clock and on weekends in advance of the order to fast-track thousands of residuals checks worth tens of millions of dollars so you would have this important source of income in your hands immediately. As additional checks are delivered, the team is continuing its incredible work to turn them around as quickly as possible.
“We are also aware,” they said, “that a number of you have raised concerns about your DGA dues. Quarterly dues reports will proceed as scheduled in April and members will be required to report their earnings. For members who cannot afford to pay their dues, we have made the decision to refrain from suspending members for non-payment of dues through July 1st, at which time we will assess the situation. But if you have the good fortune to be able to pay your dues at this time, please do. That money goes to help operate our Guild so we can continue to protect you throughout this pandemic. But again, if you find yourself experiencing hardship and cannot pay at this time, there is leniency.”
On the healthcare front, Schlamme and Hollander said: “We know many of you are concerned and anxious about making your minimums. The Plans are in the process of preparing a newsletter that lays this out specifically. But we want to assure those of you whose current coverage expires on March 31st that if you’ve met your minimum earnings threshold ($35,000 in covered earnings) from January 2019 to December 2019 you are covered through March 31, 2021. To reiterate, even if you had no earnings in the first quarter of 2020, you are still protected for the next year.”
They also noted that the guild has been fighting for federal and state assistance for Hollywood workers who have all lost their jobs at once, and that “we are so close to seeing tangible results. Hopefully by the time you get this, a bill will have been passed with measures expected to include expanded unemployment benefits and ‘pandemic unemployment’ benefits to ensure that entertainment industry workers not eligible for traditional unemployment can receive comparable weekly benefits.”