Management’s AMPTP has weighed in on the WGA’s ongoing feud with the Association of Talent Agents, rejecting the guild’s request that the studios and networks participate in what the AMPTP calls a “group boycott” of talent agencies that refuse to sign the WGA’s proposed new Agency Code of Conduct.
Doing so would subject the companies to “a substantial risk of liability for antitrust violation,” the AMPTP said.
David Young, executive director of the WGA West, had asked the AMPTP to reopen negotiations with the guild in order to add a new clause to their existing contract that would prohibit the studios from doing business with agencies that refuse to sign the WGA’s proposed Code. AMPTP president Carol Lombardini declined to do so today, but said she hopes the WGA and the ATA can reach a “successful conclusion” to their negotiations. The deadline for a deal is April 6.
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“On February 4, 2019, the WGA asked the AMPTP to reopen negotiations during the term of the 2017-2020 Minimum Basic Agreement to address the subject of talent agents,” Lombardini said today in a letter to Young. “Specifically, the WGA requested that a clause be added to the MBA prohibiting AMPTP-represented companies from doing business with any talent agency that fails to reach a new agreement with the WGA. Furthermore, this request was made without regard to the terms the guild would demand of the agents, essentially asking us to blindly accept whatever terms might ultimately be incorporated in that talent agency agreement.
“The AMPTP-represented companies have discussed your proposal at length and have also consulted labor and litigation counsel. Based upon that review, as well as reports of the agreement that the guild is demanding of talent agents, the companies have concluded that agreeing to your proposal would require them to participate in a group boycott of talent agencies that do not meet with guild approval. We believe that doing so would subject them, the WGA and individual writers to a substantial risk of liability for antitrust violations, including claims for treble damages. The Companies would also be at risk for violation of federal labor laws as well as state laws.
“For these reasons, we respectfully decline your invitation to reopen the Basic Agreement to negotiate a provision such as the one you have suggested. We remain hopeful that the WGA and the talent agencies will reach a successful resolution of their negotiations for a new WGA/talent agency agreement.”
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