Status Report from Newly Re-elected WGAW Prez David A. Goodman

LB’s NOTE: I’d say this covers just about everything re where the Writers Guild of America is now and where it – we – want to be in the immediate future.

September 20, 2019
Dear Members,

I want to thank all of you for your participation in our election. As you may have already heard, turnout was the highest it’s ever been, more than doubling the record set last year. This was due in large part to the fact that this election ended up being a referendum on the agency campaign. It’s important for me to state that though an overwhelming majority of members made it clear that they support the current strategy, all voices were heard, and the elected leaders, whether re-elected incumbents or new to the board, recognize and take into consideration the points of view of all Guild members.

And so, on Monday, the 2019-2020 Board of Directors will meet for the first time. Over the next few months, elected leaders and staff will intensify our preparations for the 2020 MBA negotiations, as well as continue the ongoing strategic work of the Guild that includes enforcement, public policy, research, organizing, workplace initiatives, and all the other services and functions membership has come to expect from their union.

We will also obviously continue our work on the agency campaign. Given the large numbers of Guild-wide emails sent by all the candidates and other members during the election cycle, we refrained from sending out agency updates during that period. Because the outcome of the election was seen as possibly affecting our strategy, many agencies explicitly stated they would not negotiate with us during that period, so there isn’t a lot to report.

But here are a few things to bring you up to speed:

  • Non-franchised agency outreach to writers has increased as agents continue to try to pressure and/or entice their former clients to violate Working Rule 23. Anonymous sources are quoted in the media claiming writers have returned to agents in droves. That is not true. The anonymous rumor-mongering by some agencies simply shows how badly they are being hurt by the absence of writers. We are working to make a deal, but in the meantime writing jobs are being filled. As always, you can contact if you have any concerns or questions.
  • On September 13, over the agencies’ objections, the federal judge overseeing the WGA/WME-CAA-UTA lawsuits granted the WGA’s motion to consolidate the three cases, and is requiring the agencies to file a new single amended complaint (by September 27). Ultimately the ruling will make the case more streamlined and economical to litigate.
  • The WGA Platform just added two new ways for writers and representatives to connect. The first is a list of managers seeking clients. This is currently on the Platform for writers to browse. The second is a list for writers to submit to if they want to be listed as seeking a manager or agent. Submissions can be made via the Platform and the first list will be posted for managers and agents to access next week.
  • WME has set a date next week for its IPO, the culmination of its plans to leverage access to talent for its own financial gain. With WME working for the benefit of Wall Street investors, an end to the conflicted practices of packaging fees and producing is more necessary than ever.
  • The WGA has continued outreach to the remaining unsigned agencies and remains committed to moving the negotiation process forward.

I just want to close by saying elections naturally highlight our differences, but they also have a way of reminding us of even more essential things: in the record turnout, of how much this Guild means to all of us; and in the gracious words of Phyllis Nagy, that, in the end, “our goals are the same.” With respect for one another – and with some pride in the fact that we’re willing to fight for ourselves and for each other – let’s take on the long list of challenges that face us. This is a booming, expanding industry, and we’re at the heart of it. It should be an easy time to demand our fair share. But nothing’s easy, so we’ll do what is hard.

In Solidarity,
David A. Goodman
President, WGAW