ATA Blasts WGA For Threatening To Throw “Industry Into Chaos” As Latest Talks End


The Association of Talent Agents on Tuesday blasted the WGA for threatening to throw “our industry into chaos,” and accused the writers guild of still not taking their negotiations seriously as the April 6 deadline for a new franchise agreement nears.

Today’s talks marked the sides’ seventh face-to-face meeting, and so far they haven’t made any progress toward resolving two key issues.

WGA members will begin voting Wednesday on a new Agency Code of Conduct that would ban packaging fees and agency affiliations with related production entities – the two main issue in the negotiations. If no deal is reached, and the code is approved, the guild could order its members to fire any agent that refuses to sign.

The ATA, however, said today that “More than 100 of ATA’s member agencies – which employ thousands of agents – have informed the ATA that they will not sign the WGA’s proposed Code of Conduct.”

“Today, WGA leadership presented nothing other than their acceptance of two of ATA’s important proposals: one on inclusion and non-discrimination, and the second on the formation of a standing committee that will monitor compliance of the agreement,” the ATA said after today’s bargaining session. “Last week, (WGA West executive director) David Young laid out his three-pronged negotiating strategy. He said that we’re still in phase two – the threatening phase. It is unfortunate that they have not moved past this phase and that they are continuing to keep to their long-term strategy of not having any meaningful negotiations until after the vote.

“We hope that WGA leadership will get serious about collaborating on an agreement that protects the best interests of all writers and artists. In the interim, we want our clients to know:

• Writers should have individual choice when charting their own career paths, and we will continue to fight for them.
• WGA leadership should want to engage on the two key issues of packaging and affiliate production. So far, they have not. Instead, they continue to mislead their members with false information and horror stories.
• WGA leadership is saying that managers and lawyers can stand in for agents. They can’t – it’s against the law.
• Guild leadership should not ask agencies to provide their clients’ confidential information without the client’s individual consent.
• The guild’s proposal would force their members to pay an additional $49 million in commissions each year or cost all artists upwards of $110 million in additional commissions per year.
• The guild’s plan would eliminate hundreds of jobs for writers and artists by ending affiliate production entities.
• The guild’s proposal would effectively shut down agency support for the independent film business, putting at risk more than 200 films per year.”

The ATA said that “When guild leadership is ready to move on from their declared threatening phase, we stand ready to work through these issues and come to an agreement. We hope this happens before WGA’s proposed plan throws our industry into chaos, disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable WGA members.”

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