Saying that “the time has come for the WGA’s leadership to start bargaining in earnest,” leaders of the Association of Talent Agents have told their member-agencies that they hope the WGA will return to the bargaining table with a counteroffer to the proposals the ATA made on Friday to end their 59-day standoff over packaging fees and agency affiliations with corporately related production entities.
“Our second offer is a starting place for renewed negotiations – an opportunity to press reset,” ATA executive director Karen Stuart and ATA president Jim Gosnell — who’s also president and CEO of the Agency for the Performing Arts, told the ATA’s members on Sunday. The guild should not subject this offer to another flat-out rejection without counter. We encourage them to sit back down with us, roll up our sleeves and together work through the issues.”
Read their letter here.
The ATA appears to think the ball is now in the WGA’s court — that the guild should respond to its latest proposals so that a dialogue can begin. ATA officials noted that during Friday’s meeting, WGA leaders didn’t ask any questions about any of their proposals.
The WGA, however, appears to think the ball is back in the ATA’s court — that it’s waiting for the ATA to codify its latest proposals into contract language so that the guild can “formulate the appropriate response.”
The two sides met Friday for the first time since April 12, after which the guild order all of its members to fire their agents who refuse to sign its new Agency Code of Conduct. The ATA’s latest offer includes a 2% revenue sharing with writers from backend profits on shows the agencies package – up from 0.8% in its initial offer.
The WGA, however, said after Friday’s meeting that it wants the ATA to codify its proposals into contract language before responding. “Although there was cause for concern, including a revenue sharing proposal that instead of 1% is now 2%, the presentation was wide ranging and complex,” the guild told its members after the meeting. “We have asked for contract language on their proposals in order to formulate the appropriate response. As we’ve stated, whatever solution we find, it will have to address conflicts of interest and realign agency incentives with those of their writer clients.”
In their message to the ATA’s members, Stuart and Gosnell said: “We are writing to update you on Friday’s meeting with the leaders of the Writers Guild of America. As you know, that meeting was scheduled after ATA reached out to the WGA and urged leadership to get back into the negotiating room. Our writer clients have been calling us every day with questions. When does this end? What is the plan? Can you get in the room again? Can you help break the log jam?
“So, we tried again. While WGA leadership never provided counterproposals to the comprehensive proposal that we put on the table during our April meeting, our ATA Working Group unanimously agreed to make additional proposals based on conversations with our members, writers, industry leaders and internal review of agency practices.
“We put forward a summary of proposals in several key areas to address concerns raised by the WGA leadership, including term, contracts and information sharing, packaging, arbitration and affiliate production. Our entire offer was based on the premise that writers should have control over their projects and choice in their careers.”
“Your ATA eight-member-company Working Group has worked tirelessly every day on behalf of the industry to try and find a workable solution with the guild,” they wrote.