The WGA is deputizing managers and attorneys to procure employment for writers and negotiate their over-scale terms – essentially taking the place of agents. The move comes as the guild prepares for the possibility that it might ask all writers to fire their agents en mass if it can’t come to terms with the Association of Talent Agents for a new franchise agreement.
With that agreement set to expire on April 6, the guild said that it is “preparing for the possibility that members may have to leave their agency after April 6. To ensure that as much support as possible will be in place for writers seeking work, the WGA is providing a limited delegation of our exclusive bargaining authority to managers and attorneys who represent guild members.”
“While we are working toward a swift and equitable resolution of our differences with the agencies,” the guild said tonight in a message to its members, “we must still plan for other contingencies [for] members who could soon be without representation by a franchised agency. Many guild members have a manager and/or attorney who can help fill some of the gap.
“To eliminate any doubt, the guild has issued a formal written delegation authorizing managers and lawyers who represent WGA members to procure employment and negotiate over-scale terms.”
California state law, however, states that “No person shall engage in or carry on the occupation of a talent agency without first procuring a license therefore from the Labor Commissioner.” But the guild thinks it has the legal high ground.
In a separate letter to managers and lawyers who represent WGA members, the guild noted that it is “the exclusive representative for the purpose of collective bargaining of all writers,” and that as such, is vested by the National Labor Relations Act “with the exclusive right to bargain over wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment on behalf of such writers. The guild, in its sole discretion, may delegate its exclusive bargaining authority on terms that it establishes.
“The guild, as the exclusive bargaining representative, hereby authorizes you to procure employment and negotiate over-scale terms and conditions of employment for individual writers in connection with Minimum Basic Agreement-covered employment and MBA-covered options and purchases of literary material, consistent with Article 9 of the MBA.”
The guild, meanwhile, met with showrunners tonight to address their concerns about the looming showdown.