Writers Guild Keeps Up Talks With Individual Agencies

Emma McIntyre/Getty Images
Writers Guild of America West president David Goodman.

The guild told members Friday it is having "useful discussions" with unnamed agencies over a potential agreement.

Nearly seven months after thousands of writers dropped their agents after failing to make a deal on a new franchise agreement, the standoff has turned into a protracted legal battle. 

On Friday, the Writers Guild of America gave a status update to its members, saying in an email that it "continues to have useful discussions with several individual agencies."

"All of them have asked for confidentiality, and honoring those requests is part of building the trust that allows the possibility of making deals," read the Nov. 1 missive. 

Since the re-election of Writers Guild of America West president David Goodman to a second two-year term with 77 percent of the membership's vote in September, the union has kept up its pressure on the agencies to sign its Code of Conduct. 

The WGA also stated Friday that it is looking to make progress with the agencies that it has made deals with over the past several months, like Verve, Buchwald and Kaplan Stahler.

The guild said it "is working with each franchised agency to systematize sharing of contracts, invoices, and other data, tailored to the agency’s capacity and systems. In some cases we are working with their software vendor to set up data feeds."

The WGA also said that it is continuing to prepare for talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers over its Minimum Basic Agreement collective bargaining deal that is set to expire in May 2020. Negotiations will likely commence in April. 

The guild is locked in a legal war with the major talent agencies, WME, CAA and UTA, and is seeking to eliminate packaging fees, in which agents are compensated directly by a studio for attaching talent to a scribe's pitch.

In an Oct 4. email to members, the WGA reiterated its stance on packaging fees noting, "nothing any agency has proposed or floated with regard to packaging makes us change our firm position, reaffirmed by the election results, that agencies should make 10% of writer earnings."