A video circulating that claims to have been created by the WGA “resistance” is raising doubts about the guild’s current course of action in its ongoing battle with Hollywood’s talent agents.
“The WGA scared the shit out of members,” one prominent writer-showrunner, who forwarded the video, posted on YouTube on Thursday under the “WGA Rebuttal 1: “95.3 Percent!,” told Deadline. “Truly. The calls, the emails, the hardcore intimidation tactics that they deny. It’s out of the Blacklist. The language they have used about ‘compliance.’ Which members are compliant? We need to know and that kind of crap. No questions allowed. Their endgame is unclear. Their real intent is unclear. Half the board and negotiating committee signed multi-million dollar deals before they asked everyone to fire their agents. It’s a shit show. The resistance will have over a thousand soon.”
Click above for the five-minute video, playing off a WGA video released Wednesday in which Chris Keyser, co-chair of the guild’s agency negotiations committee, detailed how the guild got to this point with the agencies. The group said it is one of several videos it plans to publish rebutting different portions of Keyser’s presentation.
Here’s a little fact-checking of the new video:
1. The video says that the vote was: “Do you authorize the Guild to impose a new Code of Conduct?” The actual language of the vote was: “Do you authorize the Board and Council to implement an Agency Code of Conduct, if and when it becomes advisable to do so, upon expiration of the current AMBA on April 6, 2019?”
2. The video says that there was: “Nothing in there about mandatory firing of agents.” In fact, once the old franchise agreement expired, the agents were automatically fired because the guild no longer had a franchise agreement with any agency that didn’t sign its Code of Conduct.
3. The video says that that the WGA has 15,000 “current” members. That’s true – about 10,000 in the WGA West and about 5,000 in the WGA East. But not all of them were eligible to vote. As the guild has noted, “Current members in good standing are eligible to vote with the exception of members who work exclusively in a staff news shop.” The WGA has contracts covering CBS News and ABC News writers, as well as NBC Promo writers, who were not eligible to vote on the Code. The CBS contract, for instance, covers some 340 news writers, producers, desk associates and graphic artists working at the network’s news operations in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. – none of whom were eligible to vote. The same is true for the staff writers at CBS and ABC news operations. So the 95.3% who voted in favor was not of 15,000, but of a number closer to 14,000. The guild never said how many current members were eligible to vote.
And the WGA’s Rule 23 states that members cannot be represented by agents who are not franchised. It states that: “No writer shall enter into a representation agreement whether oral or written, with any agent who has not entered into an agreement with the Guild covering minimum terms and conditions between agents and their writer clients.” As of April 13, 2019 that agreement is the WGA Agency Code of Conduct.
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