WGA Asks Decide To Reject WME’s & CAA’s Request For Injunction To Finish Lengthy-Working Authorized Dispute – .
The WGA has asked a federal judge to reject a motion by the WME and CAA for an injunction that would force the guild to end its group boycott of the agencies.
Last month, the WME and CAA asked U.S. District Court Judge André Birotte Jr. to end the stalemate by ordering the guild to allow the agencies’ authors to return to the agencies. They also asked the court to order the WGA “not to use or threaten any form of union sanction or discipline against guild members” in order to use the WME and CAA to represent their typing services. A hearing is scheduled for December 18th.
The dispute arose in April 2019 when the guilds ordered all of their members to fire their agents who refused to sign the WGA’s code of conduct, which banned packaging fees and agencies from affiliation with related manufacturing companies. Since then, every major agency except CAA and WME has signed a modified code that phased out packaging fees and reduced manufacturing companies ownership to just 20%.
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“One and a half years after filing the lawsuit against the conduct at issue in this motion, after all other Hollywood talent agencies signed franchise agreements to resolve problematic conflicts of interest, the CAA and WME are now filing injunctions that will allow them to resume their conflict-ridden representation the writers of the guilds and granting the full injunction that their lawsuit seeks, “WGA East and West said in court files filed on Friday.
“The agencies’ requests are based on obvious misrepresentations of their own positions in negotiations with the guilds over a new franchise agreement. As the numerous statements made by prominent respected showrunners, experts and union officials who accompany this opposition make clear, their motions are based on a fundamental misrepresentation of both the work of the guild’s showrunner members and the contradicting representation that these agencies continue to have interest in connected production studios (ie the employers of the authors) ensures.
Furthermore, their motions completely ignore the fact that Congress expressly and expressly waived the jurisdiction of the federal courts to deliver the injunction they seek in this industrial action.
“The applications of the CAA and WME are strongly and critically based on a misrepresentation: Both agencies paint the wrong picture that they are currently complying with all terms of the agreements that the guilds have made with the other Hollywood or are willing to comply with these talent agencies.
“However, the CAA and WME critically acknowledge that they are unwilling to agree to a key term that all other talent agencies have agreed: that they and their parent companies – including any private equity managers or other shareholders who own these agencies in whole or in part and therefore likely to control the agencies’ incentives and behavior – be limited to a 20% stake in the production studios where the authors WME and CAA are represented.
In other words, the WME and CAA are asking this court to require the guilds to grant them a privilege that no other agency has – the ability to represent the guilds’ writers in negotiations with studios while also having significant ownership interests in them Maintain studios.
“It is the WME and CAA’s insistence on an exemption from this important prohibition of conflicts of interest – not hostility or guild favoritism – that prevents them from reaching a new deal with the guilds. Now that every talent agency (including CAA and WME) has agreed to end the packaging fees, every talent agency except CAA and WME has agreed to the 20% restriction on the interests of agencies and agency owners in production companies that the authors, WME and CAA seek seek the intervention of this court to lay its weight on their side in ongoing negotiations over their ownership interests in employers and forcing the guilds to comply with their demands for conflictual representation.
“This court should reject the agencies’ request. Since this controversy arises from a labor dispute, the Norris LaGuardia Act, in principle, expressly deprives this court of jurisdiction to issue an injunction. Even if it were not, the agencies cannot show any likely success or even serious questions on the matter. “
In mid-November, the CAA and WME filed motions in the ongoing federal lawsuit asking the court to join in the WGA’s efforts to require them to abide by the terms of the franchise agreement that all other Hollywood agencies have since accepted.
On December 4, 2020, the WGA and individual counter-plaintiffs filed an objection against the motions for injunctions submitted by the WME and CAA. The opposition was backed by evidence in the form of affidavits from guild members, WGA executives and experts. “
See the guild’s latest proposal here.
In his affidavit, David Young, Executive Director of WGA West, said, “Essentially, the WME and CAA are asking the court to enter into one side of a labor dispute. The leverage the guilds have in regulating talent agencies depends on the exercise of collective power: 95% of members agreeing to approve a code of conduct, followed by 7,000 writers’ willingness to fire their agents to aid their conflict claim representation .
“Giving an order to boycott this mass action would effectively disarm one side of the dispute. Once the writers are allowed to return to their unfranchised agencies, the solidarity required for collective action will be broken and it will be impossible to undo the damage if this court later determines the merits in favor of the guilds. Meanwhile, the WME and CAA are no longer under pressure to enter into franchise agreements that they now say are ready to be signed.
“They are free to continue their business activities that are in any way conflicting and unregulated (e.g. commission restrictions; arbitration of customer disputes), with an unfair competitive advantage over the already signed agencies who may themselves consider to give up their WGA franchise. ”
See Young’s explanation here.
Guild Working Rule # 23 prohibits members from being represented by unlicensed agents for their typing services, but does not prevent members from being represented by unlicensed agents for their directorial and production services, such as Adam McKay, a WME customer . made clear in his statement. “As I understand it, working rule 23, as with all other guild work rules, only applies to guild members if paperwork is carried out that is regulated in the minimum basic contract, the collective agreement of the guilds with television and television film production studios,” he said in a statement submitted to the court .
“I communicated with elected officers and guild employees who kept telling me that Rule 23 only applies to me and other guild members to the extent that we do paperwork. These guild leaders have made it clear to me that it does not violate Labor Rule 23 for a guild member to be represented by a non-franchised talent agency for non-writing work (e.g. directing or producing). “
Other guild members who have filed statements in support of the guild’s objection to the agencies’ injunction request include Alex Gansa, Barbara Hall, Chris Keyser, Carol Mendelsohn, Mike Schur, and David Shore. WGA staff who have made statements include Chuck Slocum, Ellen Stutzman, Sean Graham, and Geoff Betts. Legal experts making statements on behalf of the guild include Dr. James D. Reitzes, Dr. Coleman D. Bazelon and Dr. Alisa Perren.