WGA has a new ally in its ongoing feud with Hollywood's talent agents – SAG-AFTRA. "We congratulate Writers Guild of America on their successful membership vote and welcome the guild to take action in their member's best interests," the actors union said today. "We stand with our sister association in the ongoing battle to protect members of the entertainment industry."
Earlier today, WGA's new agency code was overwhelmingly endorsed by the Guild's members and set the stage for writers to fire their agents massively if a new franchise agreement is not reached by April 6th. WGA is expected to resume negotiations this week with the Talent Agents Association, but no date has been set.
Before the merger with AFTRA, SAG had its own bitter disagreement with the ATA over one of the key issues at stake in WGA's standoff with the ATA agency's affiliation with related production companies. In 2002, SAG's Board of Directors approved an agreement with ATA that would have allowed a limited form of such partnerships, but SAG members voted it down. SAG disenfranchised all major agencies, but never ordered its members to choose between their agent and their guild, which the WGA is now ready to do.
AFTRA approved a very similar agreement with ATA while SAG was about to vote it down. The two unions merged in 2012, and SAG-AFTRA does not have a franchise agreement with ATA until today.
In October of last year, before the negotiations had just begun, WGA West CEO David Young claimed that ATA's CEO, Karen Stuart and the agencies "busted" the SAG franchise agreement referring to it, assuming that WGA's settlement with agents, will end in "conflict" rather than "partnership."
"In 2002," he told her in an email "ATA agencies busted the SAG franchise agreement over your demand to be allowed to become producers. Given that similar concerns are part of our 2018 proposals, we assume not that partnership rather than conflict will win, but we remain hopeful. In that spirit we look forward to the time of our formal discussions with you. "
However, Stuart has said that Young has his story wrong – that ATA is not" busted "SAG's franchise. SAG-AFTRA does not mention in its statement of support today agents or ATA.