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WGA Authorizing Managers, Lawyers to Make Deals if Agents Are Fired

The Writers Guild of America has authorized managers and lawyers to negotiate deals for writers in place of agents — if the guild tells members to fire their agents on April 7.

The guild’s negotiating committee notified members of the plans in a message Wednesday. The WGA and the Association of Talent Agents having made little progress in negotiations to revamp the 43-year-old rules governing how agents represent writers. The WGA said it will require its members to fire their agents if they have not agreed to a “code of conduct,” which eliminates agency packaging fees and ownership in production companies, before April 7.

The two sides have held five negotiating sessions since Feb. 5 but have made little progress. “While we are working toward a swift and equitable resolution of our differences with the agencies, we must still plan for other contingencies,” the message said.

California law states that only licensed talent agents are allowed to procure employment. But the guild asserted Wednesday in a declaration to managers and lawyers that was linked in the message that it has the right to delegate its exclusive bargaining authority on terms that it establishes.

Here’s the message to members:

Dear Members,

While we are working toward a swift and equitable resolution of our differences with the agencies, we must still plan for other contingencies. We’d like to share some news about how our other representatives can support members who could soon be without representation by a franchised agency.  Many Guild members have a manager and/or attorney who can help fill some of the gap.

To eliminate any doubt, the Guild has issued a formal written delegation authorizing managers and lawyers who represent WGA members to procure employment and negotiate overscale terms.  The letter appears below and is also linked HERE.

In Solidarity,

WGA-Agency Agreement Negotiating Committee

Here is the declaration authorizing lawyers and managers to negotiate for WGA members:

To: Managers and Attorneys who represent WGA members

Re: Limited Delegation of Authority to Negotiate Overscale Terms with Guild-Signatory Companies

Writers Guild of America, West, Inc., together with Writers Guild of America, East, Inc. (collectively, “Guild” or “WGA”), is the exclusive representative for the purpose of collective bargaining of all writers (“Writers”) employed under the WGA Theatrical and Television Basic Agreement (“MBA”). As such, under the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 151 et seq., the Guild is vested with the exclusive right to bargain over wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment on behalf of such Writers. The Guild, in its sole discretion, may delegate its exclusive bargaining authority on terms that it establishes.

The Guild, as the exclusive bargaining representative, hereby authorizes you to procure employment and negotiate overscale terms and conditions of employment for individual Writers in connection with MBA-covered employment and MBA-covered options and purchases of literary material, consistent with Article 9 of the MBA. Nothing herein shall be construed to permit you to negotiate terms and conditions of employment inferior to or in conflict with the terms of the MBA.

This limited delegation of bargaining authority shall be effective as of the date of this letter and may be revoked by the Guild upon ten days’ email notification to you.

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