In a major triumph for the Writers Guild of America, the Abrams Artists Agency has signed the WGA’s Code of Conduct, allowing the agency to return to representing WGA members again.
Chairman Adam Bold made the announcement Wednesday, saying that the agency wants to put its clients back to work. He also noted WGA West members had strongly supported the September re-election of David Goodman as president, who had told members in April to fire their agents if the agents had not agreed to bans on packaging fees and affiliate production.
“The writers had elections, and they overwhelmingly reelected David Goodman, one of the leaders of this strategy. We feel that it is time to put the writers back to work, as well as our agents. The code of conduct as it stands now, is a much better document than it was before. For that reason, along with some of our negotiated changes, made it an agreement that we can stand behind.”
Abrams is joining more than 70 agencies allowed to represent WGA members thanks to agreeing to a ban of agency packaging fees and affiliate production.
A trio of three other mid-sized agencies — Verve, Kaplan Stahler and Buchwald — signed deals with the WGA in the months following the April 13 firings. CAA, UTA and WME sued the WGA and recently consolidated their antitrust suits against the guild into a single action, accusing the union of engaging in an illegal group boycott.
Abrams had approached the WGA in June to seek a deal but the two sides could not reach an agreement. Bold said Wednesday that the new pact addresses concerns about confidentiality and security.
“The WGA has strengthened their language about confidentiality and data security to make sure that our clients’ contract information stays private,” he said. “They are going to use heightened security protocols, and limit access to staff within the guild who have a valid business reason to have access to the information.”
Bold also said that he was concerned that the requirement to send writers’ contracts and invoices to the WGA would put the agency in a potential conflict if a client had indication opposition to that policy.
“We have solved this problem by creating a disclosure form for our clients that creates transparency so that they understand the Agency has a contractual obligation to the WGA to provide contractual information to them,” Bold said. “If the client independently opts that they don’t want us to disclose it, then we will let the Guild know, and give the Guild the opportunity to explain to the client why it’s in their best interest. In exchange, we will never talk clients out of it.”
Abrams has about 65 agents and is a member of the Association of Talent Agents. The ATA held negotiations over several month and those talks collapsed twice — first on April 12 and again on June 7. Goodman announced on June 20 that the guild would only negotiate with WME, CAA, UTA, ICM Partners, Paradigm, Gersh, APA, Rothman Brecher and Kaplan Stahler.
The WGA and the ATA had no immediate comment on Wednesday.
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