CAA has joined WME and UTA in filing an antitrust lawsuit against the Writers Guild of America (WGA) on Monday (July 1).
The agency made its move days after the Guild responded to earlier suits by WME and UTA by accusing eight Hollywood agencies and the Association of Talent Agents of collusion.
In papers filed by CAA in California, the agency alleges the Guild to be in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, arguing the lawsuit was necessary because Guild leadership was attempting a group boycott and “staggering” restraint of trade.
The suit alleges the WGA has “conspired with and induced” non-labour groups including producers, non-licensed managers and attorneys, to join the group boycott in a “power grab” aimed at ending agency television packaging and affiliated production entities.
The agency described the boycott as “stunning overreach”, adding that the Guild has no authority to try to limit competition in television packaging and content production. Furthermore it disputed the claim that such activities amounted to a conflict of interest, and said the Guild attempted to enforce its revised code of conduct in cases where there was no conflict of interest. Guild membership voted overhwelmingly in favour of the revised code in spring. It advocates a ban on television packaging fees and affiliated production entities, and instructed members to fire agents whose companies had not signed on to the code.
“The WGA’s unlawful group boycott ultimately will cause substantial harm,” the suit says, “not only to talent agents but also to actors, directors, production staff, below-the-line employees, and many other industry workers – as well as the vast majority of the union’s own writer membership – all of whom depend on the agencies’ pro-competitive activities to ensure that television shows actually get made and that individual artists are equipped to maximize their value.”
While acknowledging that federal antitrust laws allow limited exemptions to labour union activity – as in the case of collective bargaining – in this instance CAA’s attorneys claim a boycott is not ordinary labour union activity and “vastly” exceeds any exemption.
ICM Partners had not returned emails at time of writing to say whether it would also file a suit.