The WGA negotiating committee notified members Wednesday about the deal on the heels of UTA making the announcement about signing a new franchise agreement.
“The WGA and United Talent Agency (UTA) have agreed to a new franchise agreement,” the message said. “Therefore, effective immediately, UTA may once again represent WGA members for covered writing services. WGA and UTA have also agreed to withdraw the legal claims each has brought against the other in federal court. In line with the previous agency agreements the Guild has made, the UTA agreement protects writers in three fundamental areas emphasized since the beginning of the campaign:
“Contract, deal memo and invoice information will be provided to the Guild, allowing the WGA and the agency to partner in systematically addressing late pay and free work; strict limitation on agency ownership of production entities; A sunset period that ends the practice of packaging. The UTA agreement extends the packaging sunset date to June 30, 2022; until then packaging is only permitted with the informed consent of the writer. The agency can have up to a 20% non-controlling ownership of a production company.”
The WGA message did not mention that either CAA, WME or ICM Partners will have to join UTA in signing a franchise agreement within the next two years for the UTA agreement on the extension of the sunset period on packaging if the WGA has not resolved the dispute over packaging fees with one of the three remaining agencies. All the other provisions of the agreement remain in place for the 5-year term of the agreement.
UTA is joining more than 80 agencies allowed to represent WGA members thanks to agreeing to a limit on agency packaging fees and affiliate production. WGA members were told on April 13, 2019, by WGA West president David Goodman to fire their agents if the agents had not agreed to bans on packaging fees and affiliate production.
Several mid-sized agencies — Abrams Artists (now A3), Rothman Brecher Ehrich Livingston, Verve, Kaplan Stahler and Buchwald — signed deals with the WGA in the months following the firings. Paradigm signed a deal four months ago. CAA, UTA and WME sued the WGA and consolidated their antitrust suits last year against the guild into a single action, accusing the union of engaging in an illegal group boycott.