The WGA says it’s had “cordial discussions” with WME and CAA about signing its agency franchise agreement, but told its members Tuesday that it’s not close to a deal with the two largest packaging agencies.
The WGA has signed more than 100 agencies to its franchise agreement over the past 18 months, including UTA and ICM Partners, to end packaging fees on writing services by June 30, 2022, while limiting agencies to a 20% ownership stake in affiliated production entities.
But drawing a line in the sand, the guild’s agency negotiating committee said today that “we’ve now gone about as far as we can go” in making compromises to bring WME and CAA onboard. “To be blunt, we’re not going to give them a different and better deal because they waited…We’re not going to keep pushing back the sunset period on packaging. We’re not going to allow more than 20% ownership of a production studio.”
“WME and CAA are of course welcome to sign the current agreement, which has evolved as a result of meaningful talks with individual agencies,” the committee said. “The WGA has compromised to the extent necessary while ensuring the fundamental goals approved by our membership were maintained. We know that the franchise agreement we now have offers a viable business model for the agencies.
“WME and CAA chose to sit out the negotiation for well over a year, hoping members would give up, and relying on a lawsuit that won’t even go to trial, if at all, until summer 2021. Because of their corporate structures and private equity investors, WME and CAA have to make decisions about the future of their affiliate production companies. We’re happy to hear their plans and proposals, but ultimately it is their responsibility to find a way out of their dilemma. The fact that they began this negotiation more deeply conflicted than other agencies does not mean they can resolve it by remaining more conflicted. We cannot make a deal with them that undercuts the gains this campaign has achieved. We cannot accommodate their conflicts at the cost of our members’ right to be represented by un-conflicted agents.”
Even without signing WME and CAA, the guild insists its agency campaign has been successful in signing agencies to deals “that achieve the twin goals we set for ourselves: curtailing conflicts of interest, most notably packaging fees and affiliated production; and getting the timely information – especially contracts and invoices – the guild needs to enforce writers’ contracts.”
“Guild members now have the opportunity to seek to be represented by small, medium or large top-tier agencies,” the WGA told its members. “We’re excited to move forward and continue to strengthen our partnerships with the franchised agencies who have committed to un-conflicted representation of writers. We would welcome WME and CAA to that group. Already, these partnerships have resulted in meaningful improvements in getting members paid on time and in full. None of this would have been possible without your support and solidarity. Together, we’ve done something remarkable. Now is an appropriate time to appreciate how far we’ve come, how much we’ve achieved and how much courage writers have shown. We will keep you apprised of any additional progress.”