Jay D. Roth is widely known as the longtime National Executive Director of the Directors Guild of America (DGA), which protects and extends the economic and creative rights of its nearly 17,000 members working in the U.S. and abroad. Following his long-planned retirement in May 2017, Mr. Roth began a new role with the Guild as Senior Advisor.
Prior to joining the DGA in 1995, Mr. Roth was a union-side labor lawyer. As Managing Partner of Taylor, Roth, Bush & Geffner, he represented unions, guilds and industry plans for many years. His clients included IATSE International and a number of IATSE locals as well as the Motion Picture Industry Plans – for which he represented cases involving millions of dollars in residuals.
As DGA National Executive Director for 22 years, Mr. Roth addressed head-on industry changes fueled by the Digital Age through eight successful rounds of negotiations. These included securing residuals for film and TV series distributed electronically in 2001 when the Web was still in its infancy, establishing jurisdiction over programs made for new media and doubling the home video residual rate for digital purchases in 2008, and the DGA’s unprecedented gains in subscription video on demand residuals earlier this year. Together with revitalized health and pension plans and many other gains for directors and their teams – members and the industry were set on a course for future success.
In addition, Mr. Roth spearheaded research and data-driven efforts to improve membership representation and service. As membership grew 65% during Mr. Roth’s tenure at the Guild, key on-the-ground support for members outpaced that growth – the number of field representatives tripled, and the contracts department grew nearly five times in size. Annual residuals payments to DGA members increased 300% to nearly $360 million. The DGA’s infrastructure was modernized to address growing member needs.
Mr. Roth also promoted relationships with sister unions – including IATSE, SAG-AFTRA, UNI-MEI, and the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees – and coordination on issues affecting the industry at large. Additionally, the Guild’s global presence was expanded to reflect the changing dynamics of the industry. In recognition of his work in helping to create and promote cultural exchange through the Franco American Cultural Fund, for which he was a founding board member, President Sarkozy of France named Roth a recipient of the French Legion of Honor in 2009.
To provide industry-leading retirement and medical security for members – Mr. Roth has served as the chairman of the DGA-Producer Pension and Health Plans and, for nearly 20 years, as co-chair of its Finance Committee, which, jointly with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and other industry producers, administers a $3.5 billion pension and health fund for DGA members and their families.
Mr. Roth has worked closely with the Motion Picture & Television Fund, for which he is Treasurer, and has served as a board member for over 20 years. He is also a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
In February 2017, Mr. Roth was the recipient of the DGA Presidents Award for his leadership and extraordinary efforts in enhancing the welfare and image of the Guild and the industry. In 2008, the DGA recognized him with the DGA Honorary Life Member Award.
He has served as chair of the Labor Law Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and as chair of the American Bar Association Airline-Railway Labor Law Committee. He was also elected a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers.
He was born and raised in New York and is a graduate of the University of Vermont and Boston University Law School. He is married to his wife of 45 years, Sherry Grant, an attorney who represents injured workers. Together they have a daughter and son-in-law, Gina and Dan O'Donnell, and two grandchildren, Jack and Caroline, ages 9 and 4.