“We congratulate the Writers Guild of America on their successful membership vote and applaud the Guild for taking steps in the best interests of their members,” SAG-AFTRA said. “We stand with our sister union in the ongoing struggle to protect members in the entertainment industry.”
SAG-AFTRA issued the statement a few hours after the WGA announced that its members had voted overwhelmingly to support tightened restrictions on their agents. The vote was 7,882 in favor of creating a new Code of Conduct for agents representing WGA with 392 voting against. The new rules require elimination of agencies receiving packaging fees and having ownership interest in affiliate production companies — demands that the agencies have said are not feasible.
Online voting among the 15,000 members ended Sunday. Unless the WGA and agents can hammer out a negotiated compromise this week, the Code of Conduct will be imposed on April 7, following expiration of the current franchise agreement. It will require WGA members to fire agents who have not signed on to the code. The WGA and the Association of Talent Agents have held seven negotiating sessions and achieved only marginal progress so far, with no new negotiations yet scheduled.
It’s the first public statement of support from SAG-AFTRA for the WGA in its battle against the agents, which began more than a year ago.
SAG and the ATA held extensive negotiations in 2001 and 2002 at the request of the agents and hammered out a proposal that would have broadened agents’ ability to charge commissions on actors’ residual earnings and would have allowed agencies to take up to a 20% financial interest in production and distribution entities — doubling what was allowed under the expired pact.
But SAG members voted down the proposal in with 54% voting “no,” which left SAG without oversight of members of ATA. AFTRA had agreed to the ATA proposal around the same time. SAG and AFTRA merged in 2012.