The Writers Guild left the negotiating table after extending its deadline with the ATA by six days last weekend, with the practice of agency packaging — which the WGA considers to be a conflict of interest that stagnates writers’ salaries — at the root of the conflict. The ATA agreement expired at midnight April 12, and is now replaced by a Code of Conduct that agents must abide by in order to represent WGA writers. The code forbids packaging, agents are not signing it, and that leaves the writers ending agency relationships.
Few WGA members seem happy that it’s come to this, but those speaking out on social media stand with the guild. In addition to Patton Oswalt, Megan Amram, and Jon Cryer, the scribes responsible for everything from “Big Fish” and “Broad City” to “The Bold Type” and “Empire” have informed their agents that “if your agency has not signed a franchise agreement with the Writers Guild of America, whether in the form of a Code of Conduct or a negotiated agreement, under WGA rules I can no longer be represented by you for my covered writing services.”
“You are still receiving money from our employers for access to us, and keeping 99% of the profits of your backend,” wrote WGA President Goodman in a letter to the ATA in response to its proposal. “It does not change your incentives at all. It is not a serious proposal and we reject it. Despite your protestations to the contrary, these production companies are not independent of your agencies, your private equity investors openly talk about how your leveraging representation of clients to create a production business is why they invested. While we acknowledge that you have made favorable talent deals, they are clearly a loss-leader strategy. We do not need to ‘wait and see’ to know they will disappear when the business settles in. We reject this proposal.”
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— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) April 13, 2019
My agent of 20+ years is a great friend and fighter for my career. I would give him a kidney tomorrow. But this isn’t about him or any single agent. Until agencies put #ClientsOverConflicts we can’t work together. Simple as that. #IStandWithTheWGA
— John August (@johnaugust) April 13, 2019
It's hard to leave an agent when you're told you need one for years. But our agents don't make us. Most don't even want to sign us until we've already built a name/contacts. So without them, we'll go back to the hustle and community building we've always done. #IStandWithTheWGA
— Naomi Ekperigin (@Blacktress) April 13, 2019
— Jon Cryer (@MrJonCryer) April 13, 2019
I am grateful for the wga and promise to do whatever I can to help and support other writers*, now and always! #IStandWithTheWGA
— Megan Amram (@meganamram) April 13, 2019
— Sarah Watson (@SarahWatson42) April 12, 2019
— Matthew D'Ambrosio+ (@drmattdambrosio) April 12, 2019
I hoped it wouldn’t come to this. But I stand with my guild and I stand with my fellow writers. Together, we will get to what is fair and right for us all. #IStandWiththeWGA #ClientsOverConflicts pic.twitter.com/Uik9iXdx60
— LaToya Morgan (@MorganicInk) April 13, 2019
I was not “forced to fire” my agents.
I did not “walk away” from my agents.
My agents chose to cling to a conflict of interest rather than represent me fairly, and now they’ve got one less writer client to worry about.#IStandWithTheWGA#ClientsOverConflicts pic.twitter.com/9Jmp0Ik5EB
— Eric Haywood (@EricHaywood) April 13, 2019
I love my film agent like family. He’s the first & only one I’ve ever had. He’s honest, loyal & kind. I know our relationship always comes before the agency. I can’t imagine my life right now without everything he’s done for me the last ~14 years.
— Michael H. Weber (@thisisweber) April 13, 2019