The WGA has laid out its plan of action in the event an agreement isn’t reached with the Association of Talent Agents by April 6. “We have a plan,” the guild said in a communiqué to its members as bargaining for a new franchise agreement resumes today. “We know we cannot replace agents. There will be difficult moments. But our goal is to get through staffing season and whatever period of time it takes to make a fair deal with the agencies.”
The guild added: “Our industry will not grind to a halt. Studios and producers will still need writers. Writers on staff and working on projects will still go to work. Feature scripts will still get sold, and TV shows will still get staffed. Our ideas and our words will still have enormous value, and the work we all love to do will continue.”
AMPTP Rejects WGA Request For 'Group Boycott' Of Talent Agents Who Won't Sign Proposed Code Of Conduct
“While we continue to work toward a negotiated agreement with the ATA prior to the expiration date of the agency agreement we must simultaneously continue with contingency planning,” the WGA said, as guild members will begin voting Wednesday on a new Agency Code of Conduct that will ban packaging fees and sever agency ties to affiliated production companies.
Here’s the guild’s plan if an agreement isn’t reached and writers are ordered to fire all agents who don’t sign the new Code.
“If your agency doesn’t sign the Code of Conduct and is no longer able to represent members, you will not have to sever the relationship alone. As writers we can do it collectively. If you’d like to seek new representation, the guild will be keeping an up-to-date list of all franchised agents.
“Fundamentally, agents provide three things: access, negotiation, and advocacy. The guild is launching two online tools to provide access, both for writers looking for work, and for producers and executives looking for writers. For negotiation assistance, members who don’t have other representation and need to make an over-scale 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. In success, these tools and networks will continue to support the entire membership long after the agency struggle is resolved.”
Here are the answers to questions that the guild says its members are asking:
How do I leave my agents? Do I have to call them up and personally fire them?
“No, you don’t need to communicate with your agency directly, unless you want to. This is a collective action by guild members. All you have to do is electronically sign a form terminating your representation agreement. The guild will deliver the terminations to the agency in a group. The guild has prepared a standard termination form which will be available on the website and activated if and when necessary and you will be able to eSign it.”
My agency processes my payments. How am I going to get paid?
“If your agency receives and processes your checks, it is legally required to keep sending you your money. If you’d prefer to revoke that consent, contact the (guild’s) Agency Department.”
Am I prohibited from contact with my agent once they are no longer franchised by the WGA?
“You would be prohibited from being represented by your agent for writing going forward. i.e., future projects. You can continue to talk about past projects, and can continue to talk with them about signing the Code of Conduct.”
What if I have left my agent, but they continue to solicit work for me, either contacting me directly or through my lawyer and manager?
“Once you leave an agency, you should no longer allow them to work on your behalf. You can tell them if they want to represent you they should sign the Code of Conduct. Do not pay an agent who is not franchised without verifying that commission is owed, and if there are any questions or disputes, contact the Agency Department for assistance.”
But what if my former agent calls me and says, “Great news, I got you a meeting with an important producer tomorrow?”
“Your agent may very well try to test you. Former agents sometimes try to dangle meetings for clients after being fired or after becoming managers in hopes of the client wavering on representation. But if someone wants to meet with you, it’s because of your writing, not your agent.”
Read the rest of the FAQs and message here.
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