Saying that “this is not the way to get a deal done” and frustrated by the WGA’s lack of response to its last proposal for a new franchise agreement, the Association of Talent Agents’ negotiating committee said today that “it has become clear as more days pass that the guild is not interested in making a deal.”
Just after the ATA released its statement, the guild said, “The WGA plans to respond to the ATA proposal this week.”
The ATA committee, which is made up of leaders from CAA, WME, UTA, ICM Partners, APA, Gersh, Kaplan-Stahler and Paradigm, said in a statement that “moving forward, we will pursue a course that defends and protects our employees and maintains writers’ ability to choose the agents, agencies and business models that are best for them.”
Recapping the event that led up to the stalemate, the ATA said that “Nearly a month ago, the agencies’ negotiating committee reached out to WGA West president David Goodman to urge the guild to return to the negotiating room. This was after WGA leadership summarily rejected all of the agencies’ previous proposals that addressed issues raised by the guild.
“Our latest outreach on May 22 was an attempt to set all that aside and get the WGA and talent agencies back in a room talking. Our outreach came with no conditions other than to negotiate in good faith. Unfortunately, even that outreach was met with qualifications from WGA president Goodman. Mr. Goodman responded that they expected only to hear what the agencies had to say and stated that their last rejection of the agencies’ proposals had somehow amounted to a counteroffer, writing ‘in negotiations, as you know, a rejection is a counter.’ This is not the way to get a deal done.
“Even still, we reentered negotiations with the guild on June 7 offering yet another proposal. While they described the agencies’ new proposals as ‘wide-ranging and complex,’ they were actually quite simple: we more than doubled the amount of revenue to be shared by writers who are not already profit participants; reiterated our commitment to appropriate data sharing; offered new forms of arbitration to settle issues; and offered further dialogue around affiliate companies, including direct conversations with the leaders of those entities.
“The agencies’ proposals were based on the core idea that writers should have control over their own projects and choice in their careers. The reality today is that some WGA members have more choice than ever before. Writers can decide whether or not they are on a package. They can choose whether they make a deal with an agency-affiliated production company. They can tell their agent whether or not they want their contracts sent to the guild. And they can go to agencies that have signed the guild’s Code of Conduct. We believe decision-making should continue to remain in the hands of writers.”
That Code of Conduct, which the guild implemented on April 12, bans packaging fees and agency affiliations with corporately related production entities. The guild then ordered all of its members to fire their agents who refused to sign it. By the guild’s last count, more than 7,000 writers had done so.
The ATA said today that at the last meeting with guild negotiators, “We opened and closed the session with statements asking the WGA leadership to stay engaged. We presented David Young with a written term sheet outlining our proposals. But neither Mr. Young nor the WGA negotiating committee – only half of whom showed up for this session – offered a single comment or asked a single question. They left the room and 2 ½ hours later indicated they would follow-up the next week. That week has now come and gone.
“It’s been 10 weeks since the leadership forced writers to fire their agents, and now 11 days since the agencies have heard from Mr. Goodman, Mr. Young or any other member of the WGA leadership or their negotiating committee. It has become clear as more days pass that the guild is not interested in making a deal. Over the past year, members of the Association of Talent Agents – agencies large and small – have done everything possible to engage the WGA leadership in dialogue and negotiation, only to be met at nearly every turn with demands for capitulation rather than negotiation. Moving forward, we will pursue a course that defends and protects our employees and maintains writers’ ability to choose the agents, agencies and business models that are best for them.”
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