As resumed negotiations ended in another stalemate on Tuesday (26), the Association of Talent Agents (ATA) issued a statement in which it warned that the Writers Guild Of America’s (WGA) proposals would send the industry into chaos.
On the same day the WGA issued a statement outlining what would happen should the parties not reach agreement on a new deal and its members fire their agents, as instructed by the Guild.
The agreement expires on April 6 and the WGA has said all agents who do not sign up to its revised code of conduct, which advocates the end of agency packaging fees and affiliated production entities, should be fired. On Wednesday the Guild embarks on member voting on the code of conduct.
After Tuesday’s stalled talks the ATA said the WGA leadership had “presented nothing other than their acceptance of two of ATA’s important proposals: one on inclusion and non-discrimination, and the second on the formation of a standing committee that will monitor compliance of the agreement.”
The statement said, “It is unfortunate… that [the WGA] are continuing to keep to their long-term strategy of not having any meaningful negotiations until after the vote. We hope that WGA leadership will get serious about collaborating on an agreement that protects the best interests of all writers and artists.”
The statement continued:
“In the interim, we want our clients to know:
Writers should have individual choice when charting their own career paths, and we will continue to fight for them.
WGA leadership should want to engage on the two key issues of packaging and affiliate production. So far, they have not. Instead, they continue to mislead their members with false information and horror stories.
WGA leadership is saying that managers and lawyers can stand in for agents. They can’t – it’s against the law.
Guild leadership should not ask agencies to provide their clients’ confidential information without the client’s individual consent.
The Guild’s proposal would force their members to pay an additional $49 million in commissions each year or cost all artists upwards of $110 million in additional commissions per year.
The Guild’s plan would eliminate hundreds of jobs for writers and artists by ending affiliate production entities.
The Guild’s proposal would effectively shut down agency support for the independent film business, putting at risk more than 200 films per year.
More than 100 of ATA’s member agencies – which employ thousands of agents – have informed the ATA that they will not sign the WGA’s proposed “Code of Conduct.”
When Guild leadership is ready to move on from their declared threatening phase, we stand ready to work through these issues and come to an agreement. We hope this happens before WGA’s proposed plan throws our industry into chaos, disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable WGA members.”
Meanwhile the Guild posted on its website that should the parties not reach a new agreement before the April 6 expiry date, it was launching online tools to help writers looking for work, and for producers looking for writers.
“For negotiation assistance,” the WGA posting said, “members who don’t have other representation and need to make an overscale deal will need to find an attorney and can contact the Guild for assistance.
“The Guild is supporting the efforts of members who are stepping up to advocate for each other. Many writers, including showrunners, have offered to provide references for writers they have worked with in the past, and writers are organized through the Guild’s captains and committee structures. In addition, writers are expanding existing informal networks to support each other in this time.”