In a message sent out to WGA members today, the negotiating committee wrote that the agreement with Kaplan Stahler “bans packaging fees and agency-affiliated production companies and, through information-sharing, makes the agency the Guild’s partner in enforcing late pay, free work and other contract violations.” One modification to the agreement states that Kaplan Stahler will provide writers’ contracts, invoices, and deal memos to the WGA unless a writers drafts a written objection.
“The agency will send any such written objection to the WGA, as well as notify the WGA each time it finalizes a contract, deal memo, or invoice for that writer client,” the message continued. “The WGA would then have sufficient information to enforce Working Rule 3, which says members are required to file their contracts with the Guild within one week of receiving them.”
Kaplan Stahler also set a five-year term for the agreement instead of three-years in addition to two additional named arbitrators.
The WGA has been locked in a dispute with the Association of Talent Agents (ATA) for months now over packaging fees on TV and films as well as other business practices. To date, none of the biggest agencies have signed the new code of conduct. Kaplan Stahler, an ATA member, is now the first mid-level agency to come to an agreement with the WGA. Previously, Verve announced they had signed the code of conduct as well, though that agency is not part of the ATA.
WGA members overwhelmingly voted to approve the new code of conduct in late March. When it took effect on April 13, the WGA had instructed all members to fire their agents if their agencies would not sign the code. The WGA has since filed a lawsuit against ICM, CAA, WME and UTA in California state court, while WME, CAA and UTA have also filed separate lawsuits against the WGA in federal court.