The WGA and the ATA are Negotiating…sorta

The War Between TV and Film Writers and the Association of Talent Agents was scheduled to escalate at midnight, April 6th, but that’s on hold right now because – OMG! Be still our beating hearts! – further talks on what the Guild has named the “Agency Code of Contact” have been scheduled.

Here’s the latest letter of explanation from the Writers Guild of America West:

Dear WGA Members,

On March 31st – and by a vote of 95.3% – you authorized the WGAW Board and WGAE Council to impose an Agency Code of Conduct, if and when appropriate, after expiration of the AMBA at midnight on April 6th.  Empowered by your overwhelming support, the Negotiating Committee pledged that it would continue to seek a negotiated settlement.

This afternoon, a small group of agents met with members of your committee.  We had a frank and open conversation and, for the first time, the agencies acknowledged the depth of the problem that their behavior has caused. In that meeting, they asked us to delay implementation of the Code until end of day Friday, April 12th, so that they could present us with proposals to address those problems and reach a settlement.

In a sincere effort to find agreement, we have accepted that request.  In so doing, we are fulfilling our pledge to you – and the language of your authorization – that we use our best judgment as to the right time to move.  But Friday at midnight, which the agencies themselves proposed, is a true deadline.  Unless we have an agreed-upon deal, the WGAW Board and WGAE Council have voted that the Code of Conduct will go into effect at 12:01 am on Saturday, April 13th.  From that point on, diplomacy can continue alongside powerful collective action.

All of this might have happened last week. Instead, real negotiations begin now, as they always do, with a ticking clock.  It is your power – membership power – and your willingness to use it – that has brought us this far.  Conflicted practices and misaligned financial incentives have plagued our relationships with our representatives for too long.  We sincerely hope that the agencies will now become our true partners in a joint effort to deal meaningfully with both.

In Solidarity,

WGA-Agency Agreement Negotiating Committee

In other words, nobody wants to screw up the upcoming TV staffing season by risking having to get the jobs and negotiate the individual contracts without the help of our backstabbing agents.

Ah, Hollywood!