Leaders of the Writers Guild of America are warning members about being contacted by their former agents — asserting that such efforts are an attempt to undermine the WGA and its members.
The missive, sent Tuesday from the WGA negotiating committee, came with the guild in a bitter three-month standoff with talent agents that appears to be without resolution. No negotiations have taken place since last month, and none are scheduled.
The WGA directed its members on April 12 to fire their agents following the major agencies’ refusal to sign onto a new Code of Conduct, which bars the agencies from collecting packaging fees and from owning interests in production companies. Five days later, the WGA and eight members sued CAA, WME, UTA and ICM Partners, alleging that the agencies had been acting illegally in collecting packaging fees. CAA, WME and UTA sued the WGA last month, alleging that the guild had abused its collective bargaining power.
About 7,000 agents were fired following the April 12 directive. The WGA has about 15,000 members.
The WGA said in its Tuesday message, “Since April, members have reported hearing from their former agencies and outreach has intensified over the past few weeks. The messages vary, but often include offers to “help,” by setting up meetings, matching with IP, or consulting under the table. These are attempts to undermine member confidence and solidarity.”
“If a call or email from a former agent leaves you with questions or concerns, please contact the Guild,” the message continued. “If you are feeling uncertain about how to proceed with a particular challenge in your career – with the sale of original material, the pursuit of open writing assignments, development, or staffing – call the Guild.”
WGA members are allowed to discuss with agents any business that the agents transacted prior to April 12. But doing so after that date could lead to the WGA disciplining members.
About 75 smaller agencies have signed the Code of Conduct with Verve being the most prominent.
The WGA message also said that there will be Member Get-Togethers at the WGA West office on Wednesday and on July 24 with board and Negotiating Committee members available to informally answer questions. The WGA will also hold general membership meetings in on Aug. 7, 8 and 10 at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills.