The WGA will hold its second series of membership meetings next month to discuss the guild’s upcoming negotiations with the Association of Talent Agents for rules governing the relationship between writers and their agents. Meetings will be held in Los Angeles on February 9 and February 13, and in New York on February 12.
The current agreement – known as the Artists’ Manager Basic Agreement – expires April 6. It hasn’t been renegotiated in more than four decades.
“We want to get face-to-face with every member in the Guild – starting now,” WGA West president David A. Goodman and executive director David Young said Thursday in an email to members. “Our goal is to attain a new Agency Agreement that eliminates practices that constitute a conflict of interest: agency packaging fees and agencies functioning as producers.”
The guild, they noted, also wants a new rule that “Requires the agencies to provide writer contracts, invoices and other information and work with the guild to enforce contracts and protect writers’ interests.”
“This impacts us all,” they told their members. “We want to lay out the plan for you and get your feedback.”
Leaders of the WGA East and WGA West held a similar set of three meetings with members last March to help formulate their package of proposals. No date has been set for the start of the negotiations.
The WGA’s proposals for a new agreement, which were delivered to the ATA in April, would reshape the agency landscape. A proposal that “No agency shall accept any money or thing of value from the employer of a client” would effectively end all packaging deals. The guild also proposed eliminating commissions on scale and putting the brakes on the agencies’ ventures into film and television production by not allowing agencies to have “an ownership or other financial interest in, or shall be owned by or affiliated with, any entity or individual engaged in the production or distribution of motion pictures.”
Altogether, the WGA’s proposals would effectively return the agencies to mere collectors of 10% commissions on the writers they represent – a business model that hasn’t existed at the big agencies in decades.