Writers Guild Garners Support in Agency Battle From Canadian, International Guilds

Writers Guild - H - 2019

“After our parents, a writer’s first, best advocate should be their agent,” said Writers Guild of Canada president Dennis Heaton.

The Writers Guild of Canada and the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds issued a statement Thursday supporting their U.S. colleagues as the fight between the Writers Guild of America and talent counted down to a weekend deadline.

The 43-year-old agreement between the WGA and Association of Talent Agents terminates at midnight Saturday night, and will be replaced then by a WGA-imposed “Code of Conduct” barring packaging fees and affiliate production unless the two sides reach an agreement before then. With no meetings scheduled and just two days to go, that’s beyond unlikely, and as the code is unacceptable to most or all large and medium-sized agencies, thousands of writers may be ordered as early as Sunday or Monday to fire their agents or risk being disciplined for violation of a WGA rule prohibiting members from having unsigned agents represent them. What happens next is anyone’s guess.

“The WGA is rightly endeavoring to restore fairness and transparency to the process of making film and television for its members through instituting a new Agency Code of Conduct,” said the IAWG in a statement issued by the WGC. “The IAWG’s members stand with our WGA brothers and sisters and have resolved to educate our members on the underlying issues of the dispute, the adoption of an Agency Code of Conduct and the list of non-signatory agents. Additionally, we will encourage our dual members to ensure that their agents sign on to and adhere to the WGA’s new code.”

That language is taken from a resolution adopted by the IAWG, which is composed of guilds from the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, France, India, Israel and Germany representing approximately 50,000 film and television writers worldwide.

Separately, the WGA announced Wednesday that it had made minor tweaks to the code and provided a link to the latest version. Although released on April 3, the document’s filename includes the sequence “4-7-2019,” signaling the date it is expected to spring into effect.

“After our parents, a writer’s first, best advocate should be their agent,” said WGC president Dennis Heaton. “When this relationship becomes dysfunctional, no one wins.”

For more on this subject, visit THR‘s labor page.