by Larry Brody
Where we are now, via the WGA Negotiating Committee yesterday:
Today the WGA filed suit in California state court against the four largest packaging agencies: WME, CAA, UTA, and ICM. You can read the lawsuit here.
Guild members Patti Carr, Ashley Gable, Barbara Hall, Deric Hughes, Chip Johannessen, Deirdre Mangan, David Simon, and Meredith Stiehm have agreed to be plaintiffs, representing themselves and all writers harmed by packaging fees.
The goal of the lawsuit is a judicial declaration that packaging fees are unlawful as well as an injunction prohibiting talent agencies from entering into future packaging fee arrangements. The suit will also seek damages on behalf of writers and repayment of illegal profits.
The complaint is comprised of two claims:
- Packaging fees violate California fiduciary duty law. Under state law, talent agents are fiduciaries, who are required by law to represent writers with undivided loyalty and without conflicts of interest.
- Packaging fees also violate California’s Unfair Competition Law. Packaging is an unfair practice because it violates a federal statute, the so-called “anti-kickback” provision of the Taft-Hartley Act. The direct payment of our agencies by our employers is prohibited under both state and federal law.
The WGA will continue to use all appropriate methods, including negotiation and litigation, to align agency interests with the interests of writers.
WGAW Board of Directors
David A. Goodman, President
Marjorie David, Vice President
Aaron Mendelsohn, Secretary-Treasurer
Deric A. Hughes
Patric M. Verrone
Beau Willimon, President
Jeremy Pikser, Vice President
Bob Schneider, Secretary-Treasurer
Monica Lee Bellais
Lisa Takeuchi Cullen
Tracey Scott Wilson