The Writers Guild of America said on Monday that so far, “over 7,000” guild members have signed the letters terminating their agents; WGA said also that it has sent the first batch of those letters to various agencies.
“We’ve done what was necessary,” the guild’s negotiating committee wrote in a memo to members. “We look forward to the day when we are all represented by agencies who have agreed to align their interests with ours; in the meantime, writers will continue working, continue supporting each other, and continue to prove that we can and will make the necessary change happen.”
WGA says that currently, 8,800 guild members have agents.
Last month, more than 800 prominent WGA members signed a Statement of Support urging members to vote yes on a Code of Conduct that would “confront practices that constitute a conflict of interest: agency packaging fees and agencies functioning as producers.” Among the signees were Tina Fey, Adam McKay, Damon Lindelof and Beau Willimon.
The guild said in its memo on Monday that 99% of the members who signed that Statement of Support have fired their agents.
The WGA said it plans to reach out to writers who have not yet sent their letters.
“Most of the writers who haven’t yet signed termination letters are retirees or no longer actively working,” the guild said in its memo. “Guild staff will reach out to that group while as writers we will move forward and focus on achieving our goal, which remains the same: to realign agencies’ interests with the interests of writers.”
Last week the guild filed a lawsuit against the four largest agencies in Hollywood: WME, CAA, UTA, and ICM Partners. The lawsuit claims that packaging fees — fees paid to an agency for bundling talent for a film or TV project presented to a studio — violate California fiduciary law by “severing the relationship between writers’ compensation and what the agency receives in fees.”
The WGA and the Association of Talent Agents have been at an impasse for months over a 43-year-old agreement dictating how writers and their agents do business — packaging fees are at the crux of the dispute.
When the two sides failed to reach a new agreement when the deadline expired earlier this month, the guild implemented its new code of conduct for Hollywood agencies demanding an end to packaging fees. Since all the major agencies refused, writers repped by those agencies were asked to stand with the WGA and fire any agent who didn’t agree to the guild’s new code.
Read the full letter to members below:
As of April 12, the WGA’s records showed 8,800 current members with an agent. Today the Guild delivered a first batch of over 7,000 termination letters from WGA members to the non-franchised agencies.
99% of the members who signed the Statement of Support have fulfilled their pledge by terminating their non-franchised agencies.
These are astounding, powerful numbers.
Thank you. We’ve done what was necessary. Most of the writers who haven’t yet signed termination letters are retirees or no longer actively working. Guild staff will reach out to that group while as writers we will move forward and focus on achieving our goal, which remains the same: to realign agencies’ interests with the interests of writers.
The primary source of pressure on agencies to sign the Code of Conduct is their lack of writer clients. Therefore, adherence to Working Rule 23 remains the main responsibility of all Guild members. Please review the FAQ to be sure you are in full compliance.
Also vitally important is support for members who are without agents and looking for work. Your response to the call for solidarity and mutual assistance is inspiring: showrunners reading scripts, writers boosting other writers through mixers, hashtags, Google spreadsheets, or just one-to-one member outreach. We have also expanded Guild resources, and you can find them here.
We look forward to the day when we are all represented by agencies who have agreed to align their interests with ours; in the meantime, writers will continue working, continue supporting each other, and continue to prove that we can and will make the necessary change happen.
WGA-Agency Agreement Negotiating Committee