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Directors Guild Says It’s Fast-Tracking Residual Payments, Pushing for Legislative Relief

Thomas Schlamme DGA
Stewart Cook/Variety/REX/Shutterstock/DGA

Leaders of the Directors Guild of America have told the 18,000 DGA members that they are working on a variety of initiatives amid the coronavirus crisis, such as financial relief legislation and speeding up residual payments.

“We will weather this storm together,” said president Thomas Schlamme and national executive director Russell Hollander in a message sent to members on Monday.

“As the coronavirus situation evolves, your Guild is working overtime to help provide you with some stability in these difficult times,” the duo said. “While the days ahead may seem cloudy, we should all be comforted in knowing that our work will continue to be highly in demand by billions around the globe. All of the creations you’ve worked on are so necessary to entertain, and will provide relief to so many. We are so proud to represent you.

Schlamme and Hollander opened the message by saying, “We know that so many of you are filled with anxiety about the unknowns of such an unprecedented, fluid situation – changing by the day, by the hour, by the minute. These feelings are everywhere. We understand. We get it. And that is why we are doing everything we can at the Guild for you, to reassure you, and to remind you how meaningful it is to be united. Especially at a time like this. First and foremost, your health and safety continue to be our top priority. That’s hand-in-hand with our commitment to supporting you.”

The pair noted that leading medical authorities are advising that the most important way to prevent the spread of coronavirus is through social distancing, especially for the most vulnerable.

“For the film and television industry, this has led to many productions shutting down, and those that remain open taking additional steps to protect your health,” Schlamme and Hollander said. “We want to remind you that your Guild is here to protect you. We are, and will continue to be, in touch with the Studios, Networks and other employers about their plans and their obligations to you. As you’ve seen, most but not all productions have temporarily hit the pause button, which we fully support.”

They said the DGA staff has been implementing special procedures to fast-track all residual checks that are already at the Guild and added, “The Residuals team, supported by staff from other departments throughout the Guild, worked around the clock to get thousands of checks in the mail immediately. As additional checks are delivered, we will continue turning them around as quickly as possible.

The DGA staff began working remotely on Monday, they noted: “We will remain fully operational, and ask that you reach out to us by phone or email only, and refrain from visiting Guild offices in person. We are here for you, but please be patient as the volume of inquiries has increased considerably, and it may take a bit more time than usual to return your messages. Remember, we are all in this together.”

Schlamme and Hollander also revealed that the DGA has joined other unions to call on Congress for financial relief for members:.

“As freelance employees, some of you may be particularly vulnerable to production shutdowns related to coronavirus,” they said. “That’s why we’re pushing for legislation to provide economic relief to employees in the entertainment industry. We are working with a coalition of industry unions through the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees including IATSE, SAG-AFTRA, and Actors Equity – together with our allies in Congress.”

The DGA-Producer Health Plan Board of Trustees recently approved coverage of COVID-19-related testing and doctor visits for currently covered Health Plan participants. Effective immediately, all patient cost-shares (co-pays, co-insurance, deductibles) will be waived for all COVID-19 related testing through June 15, as long as it is: medically necessary; ordered by a network provider; and performed at a network lab/facility.