UPDATED with WGA response to ATA letter, 5:42 PM: The Association of Talent Agents notified the WGA today that it remains “ready, willing and able” to resume negotiations for a new franchise agreement “at any time” – taking issue with WGA West president David A. Goodman’s claim that the talks have hit an “impasse” and that he expects the agencies “to break off talks” because there are “differences so strong that they can only be resolved by action away from the bargaining table.”
ATA executive director Karen Stuart, however, told Goodman and WGA West executive director David Young today that the ATA “and is prepared to engage with a full set of responses and counter proposals. All we require is the WGA’s commitment that we are working toward the same goal. We owe it to our respective members to seek this common ground. Let’s pick a date and get back to work on a new agreement. We continue to await your response.”’
Read the full letter here. The WGA responded with a statement of its own today; read about it below.
“Ensuring writers have accurate, timely information about the status of our negotiations is paramount,” she added. “We strongly disagree with your public statements that ATA and WGA are at an ‘impasse’ and ATA is ‘withdrawing from negotiations.’ Let us be clear. ATA has not withdrawn from negotiations and is committed to developing a new agreement. As you know, last Monday I sent a letter to you on behalf of each and every ATA member agency affirming our willingness to negotiate in good faith on each and every WGA proposal, requiring only the same good faith commitment from you. You have yet to respond to my letter, despite repeatedly promising to do so.”
The two sides have only met twice at the bargaining table – on Feb. 5 and Feb. 19 since the guild informed the ATA last April that it wanted to renegotiate its franchise agreement. Their current agreement, which hasn’t been renegotiated in 43 years, expires on April 6.
The main stumbling blocks remain the WGA’s demand that agents get out of the packaging business and sever all ties with related entities that are in the production business. The guild has set March 25 for a membership vote on its new Code of Conduct, and come April 6, could order its members to fire their agents who refuse to sign it.
For its part, the WGA said today that it is willing to return to the bargaining table for a new franchise agreement with the ATA as soon as the agencies “confirm that the next step is for the ATA to ‘engage with a full set of responses and counter-proposals.’”
“We are of course willing to meet,” WGA West president David A. Goodman and national executive director David Young told ATA’s Stuart. “We hope to reach a new agreement. Although ours is not technically a labor negotiation, we intend and promise to continue to negotiate in good faith, as that term is defined in American labor law: ‘To meet at reasonable times and confer in good faith with respect to . . . the negotiation of an agreement . . . but such obligation does not compel either party to agree to a proposal or require the making of a concession.’ We look forward to hearing from you.”