WGA & ATA Reach Last-Minute Extension Hours Before Franchise Agreement Was Set To Expire

WGA & ATA Reach Last-Minute Extension Hours Before Franchise Agreement Was Set To Expire

The WGA and the ATA have averted a looming crisis and they have agreed to push tonight’s midnight deadline five days to try and figure out a compromise. Sources said that the agents initiated a meeting with WGA that lasted three and led to an extension as their 43-year-old franchise agreement was set to expire at midnight. The new deadline is Friday.

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Numerous members of the WGA negotiating committee were away including Chris Keyser, and sources said that on the WGA side were David Young, Mike Schur, Michelle Mulroney and David Shore. Meeting for the ATA and the agencies were WME’s Rick Rosen, CAA’s Bryan Lourd, UTA’s Jay Sures, who reportedly helped organize the sit-down, and APA’s Jim Gosnell, who serves as ATA President.

This is the first sign of any kind of thaw in this protracted battle. The meeting was described by sources as the first productive dialogue between the two camps since they started negotiations, with some meaningful back and forth.

The two sides agreed to continue the dialogue with the new deadline set for Friday. They are now figuring out when the next meeting will be.

The WGA Negotiating Committee and ATA tonight sent letters to their members, informing them of the meeting and the extension.(you can read them in full under the post).

“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,” WGA’s letter said. “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… We sincerely hope that the agencies will now become our true partners in a joint effort to deal meaningfully with both.”

In her note to members, ATA executive director Karen Stuart confirmed that at today’s powwow, “we mutually agreed to extend the termination of our existing agreement through Friday, April 12 and committed to meeting regularly this week in our continued effort to work towards a resolution that serves the best interests of your businesses and your clients.”

Here is WGA’s email:

April 6, 2019
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

Chris Keyser, Co-Chair
David Shore, Co-Chair
Meredith Stiehm, Co-Chair
Lucy Alibar
John August
Angelina Burnett
Zoanne Clack
Kate Erickson
Jonathan Fernandez
Travon Free
Ashley Gable
Deric A. Hughes
Chip Johannessen
Michele Mulroney
Michael Schur
Tracey Scott Wilson
Betsy Thomas
Patric M. Verrone
Nicole Yorkin
David A. Goodman, President WGAW, ex-officio
Marjorie David, Vice President WGAW, ex-officio
Aaron Mendelsohn, Secretary-Treasurer WGAW, ex-officio
Beau Willimon, President WGAE, ex-officio
Jeremy Pikser, Vice President WGAE, ex-officio
Bob Schneider, Secretary-Treasurer WGAE, ex-officio

This is the message sent by Karen Stuart to ATA members:

Friday afternoon, ATA initiated an informal meeting with the WGA to discuss a pathway and process for moving forward in our negotiations. Today, a small group of representatives from ATA and WGA met for several hours on a wide range of issues important to both writers and agents.

Tonight, we mutually agreed to extend the termination of our existing agreement through Friday, April 12 and committed to meeting regularly this week in our continued effort to work towards a resolution that serves the best interests of your businesses and your clients.  In the meantime, I continue to welcome your thoughts and look forward to seeing you at Wednesday’s membership meeting, where we will update you further.

Karen

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