The 101-day battle between the WGA and Hollywood’s talent agencies has surpassed the guild’s 100-day strike against the film and TV studios in 2007-08. And while the current dispute technically is not a strike, it has all the acrimony of one — with both sides trading lawsuits and more than 7,000 writers firing their agents who refuse to sign the guild’s new Code of Conduct that bans packaging fees and agency affiliations with corporately related production entities.
The ongoig feud also has surpassed the 13-week strike of 1981 but still has a ways to go to top the 16-week strike of 1973 and further still before it would exceed the 146-day strike of 1960 and the 153-day strike of 1988. To top that longest strike in the guild’s history, the current dispute would have to keep going until September 13, which seems more and more likely as both sides appear to be dug into their positions and aren’t even talking about returning to the bargaining table.
The guild and the Association of Talent Agents have been at loggerheads since April 12, when talks first broke off for a new franchise agreement that hadn’t been renegotiated in 43 years.
In its “statement of purpose,” the guild says: “Our agents work for us. Every dollar they make must be generated as a percentage of the money we make. That is what it means to be our representatives and our fiduciaries. Agency-based studios and packaging fees make a mockery of that and are in violation of the agencies’ ethical and legal obligations to writers. We have taken too long to demand that these practices end. But the persistence of a corrupt system does not make it right. And putting things right does not blow up the business. We do not owe our agents their wealth; they owe us their loyalty. That is what we pay for. In a complex, changing, yet immensely profitable time in our industry, writers need true allies, not deeply conflicted ones. It is for this idea – simple, old-fashioned and un-revolutionary – that we stand, and for which we come together as a guild.”
The ATA has said that its member agencies “are strong advocates committed to advancing and protecting the best interests of writers and all artists. Seismic shifts in the media landscape – including the rise of heavyweight streaming services and consolidation of traditional media companies – are generating new challenges and opportunities that artists and agents need to navigate and address together. We are dedicated to reaching a new long-term agreement with the Writers Guild of America and are certain that collaboration will drive the best outcome for writers and all artists.”