Nagy, who announced her candidacy on July 22 as the head of Writers for Negotiation, is running on a platform that the WGA needs to get back to the bargaining table after six weeks of staying away.
Goodman announced on June 20 that the guild had called off negotiations with the Association of Talent Agents in favor of pursuing individual talks with nine top agencies as it enforces a total ban on packaging fees and affiliated production for agents representing guild members. No new talks have been scheduled and Nagy said Monday on Twitter that the strategy is counterproductive.
“In refusing to negotiate with the ATA, current leadership has effectively refused to negotiate with the Big 4. Stalemate. That benefits no one. It’s naive to think otherwise,” she said.
In refusing to negotiate with the ATA, current leadership has effectively refused to negotiate with the Big 4. Stalemate. That benefits no one. It’s naive to think otherwise.https://t.co/RJ44cCKmVm
— Phyllis Nagy (@PhyllisNagy) July 29, 2019
Following a strong vote of support in March from writers, the WGA instructed guild members on April 12 to “fire” their agents after the sides failed to reach an agreement on a new code of conduct that ended longstanding industry practices. The parties have turned to the courts to settle their differences, with the WGA suing the big four agencies, and three agencies so far — WME, CAA and UTA — suing the WGA back.
The WGA has scored a quartet of victories with midsize agencies Verve, Buchwald and Kaplan Stahler agreeing to sign the code of conduct and a group of Abrams Artists agents forming a new agency to sign the code.
Nagy’s campaign platform had been attacked over the weekend by showrunner Shawn Ryan (“S.W.A.T.”), who predicted that if Nagy is elected, she will not be able to persuade the ATA to agree to a ban on packaging fees and affiliated production.
“Here is what I promise you will happen in Mid-September should Ms. Nagy be elected,” Ryan said in an email to a number of WGA members. “She will enter a negotiating room with the ATA and she will be nice, respectful and polite and she will say ‘Now that the radicals are out of the room let’s get a deal done and do something about packaging fees, affiliate production and transparency.’ And Karen Stuart will smile right back at her and say ‘We very much look forward to ending this unpleasantness, but as it relates to packaging fees, affiliate production and transparency, we hold to our positions.’”
“And, without increased pressure bearing down on them, they will continue to hold to their positions for the weeks or months necessary for Ms. Nagy to agree to a deal on their terms rather than on the WGA’s,” Ryan said.
Ryan also asserted that Nagy is naive about negotiations and won’t be effective at next year’s talks for a successor deal on the master contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. That deal expires on May 1.
“My experience makes this result obvious to me, which then made me wonder what the consequences would be of electing someone so dangerously naive about negotiations to be our Guild’s leader heading into the 2020 AMPTP Negotiations,” Ryan added. “The idea scared the hell out of me.”
Nagy, who received an Academy Award nomination for the “Carol” adapted screenplay, said the only way to resolve the current impasse is to get back to the negotiating table, and that the conflicts and abuses of packaging and affiliate production have to be greatly curtailed or eliminated.
“That requires focused negotiation followed by presentation of terms to the entire membership for approval,” she wrote in a Medium post over the weekend. “It’s worth repeating — none of this will happen without rolling up sleeves and getting back to the negotiating table.”
Nagy accused the current leadership of being inflexible, saying the WGA leaders need to be nimble enough to change course when necessary. The WGA West election results — which include three officer posts and eight board seats — will be announced Sept. 16. William Schmidt is also seeking the presidency on a platform criticizing the impasse.
“It’s about putting us in the strongest possible position for AMPTP negotiations next year,” she added. “I do not believe the current strategy puts us there. Not by a long shot.”
Nagy’s position was supported on July 26 by several hundred showrunners — including Shonda Rhimes, Ryan Murphy, Ava DuVernay, Greg Berlanti, Mark Boal and John Wells — in an open letter urging the WGA to move toward a negotiated settlement to end the impasse with Hollywood’s largest talent agencies. Nagy is running as part of a slate with Craig Mazin for vice president and Nick Jones, Jr. for secretary-treasurer.