Agencies Offer to Restart Talks With WGA to End Packaging Fee Standoff

Hollywood’s largest talent agencies have offered to restart negotiations with the WGA to end the standoff over the guild’s effort to impose new rules on talent agents.

In a letter to WGA West president David Goodman sent Wednesday, UTA co-president Jay Sures extended an olive branch and suggested resuming talks next week. UTA later sent the letter as an email message to its former writer clients. Goodman had been a longtime client of UTA until the breach that began on April 12.

Dear David-

As a longtime client (now former client) of UTA, and as someone I have spoken to along the way in the WGA/ATA dispute, I thought I would reach out once again in an attempt to figure out a path to a resolution to this mess.  It has been over a month since we all sat across from one another at the negotiating table for what I thought was a sincere good faith negotiation.     

What I have heard from many of your members is that they want us back at the negotiating table.  They want a deal and they want one now.  Many feel this fight has gone on too long with those that didn’t have existing jobs or overall deals feeling like they are at a disadvantage to those that did.  Feature writers are being burdened unfairly.   I know you have gotten many of those notes from members, because those very same notes have been forwarded to me and my agent colleagues with the passionate pleas to come to terms on a new agreement.

So we now find ourselves at a crossroads.  The lawsuit that your guild filed a month ago and amended this week is a reality.  By law, we must respond to it and we will.   We will be forced to defend ourselves, our reputations, our hard work, and our integrity with everything we have.  I know you would do the same if the roles were reversed.

We have acknowledged concerns in the areas of Packaging and Affiliated Production and put forth a comprehensive Agency Standards for Client Representation that focuses on client choice, transparency and universally accepted standards of dispute resolution through independent and unbiased arbitration.  We never received a response to this comprehensive proposal.  If this dispute is truly about addressing Packaging and Affiliate Production, then we are ready to get back to the table with you.  We are open to concepts of true revenue sharing and have already committed to requirements of explicit client consent and overall transparency and accountability.  To be clear, we have publicly stated that if a writer does not want his/her show packaged, we will honor that.   Let’s put an end to this unnecessary and extremely costly litigation that is a great detriment to your membership and the agencies.  

We should be by your sides fighting for the things writers  need and deserve in your upcoming AMPTP negotiation. So, in that spirit, let’s get in a smaller room next week and put ALL the issues on the table.  Our group will be there.  Please try to get yours.  If possible let’s plan on next Wednesday at one of our previous meeting locations.  Many people are depending on us to get everyone working again.  I look forward to hearing from you. 

Respectfully,

Jay 

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