×

Writers Guild Pushes for Talks With Individual Agencies Amid Uncertainty

Amid growing uncertainty over the Writers Guild of America’s standoff with agents, the WGA has asked the nine biggest individual agencies to begin bargaining.

The WGA’s negotiating committee made the announcement in a message to members Thursday on the heels of UTA suing the guild for alleged abuse of its collective bargaining authority and engaging in an unlawful “power grab.” WME filed a similar suit against the WGA on June 24.

The WGA directed its 15,000 members in April 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. The union argues that the fees create an unlawful conflict of interest and it’s persuaded about 70 smaller agencies to sign the code.

Negotiations with the Association of Talent Agents have been futile, collapsing twice — first on April 12 and again on June 7. WGA West president David 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.

“We are making this offer despite the fact that every one of the eight member agencies of the ATA ‘bargaining’ committee has rejected the offer we made last week to meet individually and discuss this new proposal,” the negotiating committee said Thursday.

“The guild remains determined to move the negotiation process forward,” the committee said. “Therefore, today we sent a new proposal to each formerly-franchised agency and reiterated our offer to meet to discuss any concerns they might have.”

The WGA said the new proposal has significant changes, including an offer of a contract instead of a Code of Conduct, giving either party the right to re-open the agreement with at least 90 days’ notice prior to its termination date. The proposal also allows agencies to represent producers that do not employ writers and simplified the requirement of notice to the WGA of writer commencement.

The agents’ most recent offer would have given writers up to 2% of the packaging fees after the television show became profitable. In packaging deals, writers forego having to pay agents a 10% commission.

The WGA committee said in its message to members that it will allow agencies for make packaging agreements for another year in order to transition to a 10% commission model. It also said it will address the UTA and WME antitrust lawsuits on Friday.

“But make no mistake,” the committee added. “Writers are in no fashion intimidated by these actions; tomorrow we will inform you of the Guild’s response to the agencies’ lawsuits and collusive behavior. The member survey regarding the agency campaign will be sent to you tomorrow.”

It’s unlikely that UTA or WME will be able to obtain a court order against the WGA to stop using the Code of Conduct for at least several months, so the current stalemate will probably continue through the summer.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

  • Peter Weber and Mike Johnson

    'The Bachelor's' Mike Johnson on Diversity and New Leading Man Peter Weber

    ABC named its newest star of “The Bachelor” this week, officially making Peter Weber the leading man for Season 24 of the long-running dating show. Social media backlash ensued following the announcement due to ABC’s selection lacking diversity, yet again. Since the dating franchise began in 2002, there has been only one “Bachelorette” of color [...]

  • ABC Studios Logo

    ABC Studios Head of Alternative Fernando Hernandez Exits

    ABC Studios’ head of alternative Fernando Hernandez has departed from his post at the Disney-owned television studio, a source familiar with the situation told Variety. The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news. Hernandez’s exit follows an executive shuffling at the top in recent months that has included the departure of Amy Hartwick, ABC Studio’s head [...]

  • Rob Cowan, Greg Silverman'The Conjuring 2'

    Greg Silverman’s Stampede, School of Rock Team for Unscripted Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Former president of Warner Bros. Pictures Greg Silverman is partnering with School of Rock through his content creation company Stampede. The collaboration with the music school will create exclusive content, starting with the development of an unscripted series.  School of Rock operates a network of performance-based education franchises that offer students of all ages guidance [...]

  • TV Roundup: Erica Durance Reprises 'Smallville'

    TV News Roundup: Erica Durance Reprises 'Smallville' Role in 'Arrowverse' Crossover

    In today’s TV news roundup, Erica Durance reprises her “Smallville” role in the CW’s annual “Arrowverse” crossover, and Showtime shares with Variety an exclusive sneak peek at the return of “The Circus.” FIRST LOOKS “2020 is the most important election of our lifetime,” Alex Wagner says in a new trailer for the fourth season of [...]

  • Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel WME

    Endeavor Targets Sept. 27 for Stock Debut, IPO Video Tells Company's Origin Story

    After years of preparation, Endeavor is set to make its formal Wall Street debut on Sept. 27, when its stock will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Endeavor has targeted Sept. 26 for the final pricing of its shares. The stock will trade publicly the following day. Earlier this week, Endeavor said its [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content