2nd UPDATE, 12:48 PM Both parties agreed to meet again today at 3 pm PT – one last time. Their current agreement was due to expire on April 6, but they agreed to extend the deadline until tonight at midnight. The WGA said: "Friday at midnight is a real deadline".
Still no WGA-ATA contract with a day before the guild could order members to dismiss their agents
UPDATE with WGA response, 11:40 am: The Talent Agents Association warned the WGA that it was ready to take legal action against the guild if it realized its plan to supplement personal directors and lawyers to replace licensed talent agents if the guild ordered its members to fire their agents.
This decision is a worrying sign that negotiations between the ATA and the guild may not result in an agreement by midnight. Last night, while there was only one day of trading, the ATA proposed to share the royalties of the packaging fees with the authors, which is one of the the main issues of the negotiations.
Last month, the guild said it would temporarily give officers and lawyers the power to find jobs for their client-writers so that they could negotiate their overall compensation – essentially replacing agents if none agreement was reached with the ATA for a new franchise agreement.
The ATA lawyers, however, sent this morning to the guild a letter warning that these plans were illegal and that the ATA would oppose any attempt to execute them.
Responding to the letter from the ATA, the guild stated that it "sticks to its action by legally delegating the authority it has as the exclusive representative of writers under federal law. Agencies try to intimidate lawyers and officials to stop them from doing the work they do on a regular basis. "
In a letter to the guild, Marvin S. Putnam, a lawyer at ATA, wrote: "The WGA can not" delegate "an authority it does not have". The WGA, like all unions, is empowered to bargain collectively on behalf of its members. In accordance with its obligations under federal labor law, the WGA can not negotiate individual agreements in the interests of some members and to the detriment of others, nor delegate the right to do so. "
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"On March 20, 2019, the WGA sent a notice to talent managers and lawyers claiming to" delegate "to these managers and lawyers the power to obtain employment and negotiate the terms of the employment on behalf of the members. of the WGA, "he wrote. "We are writing to inform you that the so-called WGA delegation is violating both the California Talent Agency Act (TAA) and New York General Business Law, and to demand its immediate retraction."
Noting that the California Labor Code states that "No one may occupy or engage in any activity of an arts agency without first obtaining a license" from the State Labor Commissioner, the Attorney General of California. The ATA said that the California courts and the labor commissioner had the Talent Agencies Act "requiring anyone seeking or obtaining an artistic job or undertaking for the artists that they obtain a license to perform." "Talent agency", and has always forced people who receive money in violation of this law to return those earnings. "Said, apply in New York.
"We understand," Putnam said, "that the WGA has informed the managers and lawyers that they – and the producers who hire talent by such illegal methods – are free to disregard the licensing laws. from the state, because the WGA has the power to override these federal labor law laws.This is patently false.A well-established law demonstrates the contrary.The flaws of WGA's legal theory are numerous. To name just a few:
"Federal labor law mainly concerns employment after hiring, not purchases, which is subject to state regulation and which, under these regulations, can not be enforced. only by talented agents with a license.
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"State regulatory systems are not in direct or indirect conflict with federal labor law and have coexisted for decades. Such a conflict, which does not exist here, is required by the relevant preemptive doctrines. This is essential because the law of the absent pre-emptive state applies fully to these leaders and lawyers, who risk both their business and their professional status if they willfully break the law at the request of the WGA.
The ATA, he wrote, "considers that any contract illegally made at the request of WGA is unfair and illegal competition that could harm the ATA and its member agencies. Accordingly, we request the immediate retraction of the so-called "delegation" of the WGA. ATA will take appropriate action, as appropriate, against any person engaging in unfair competition to protect the legitimate interests of its members. "
Although the WGA has been threatening for a year to remove voting rights from all ATA member organizations, data provided by the Office of the State Labor Commissioner show that it is only possible to have the right to vote. There has been no increase in the number of talent agency license applications to represent the thousands of writers and broadcasters. who may soon be struggling to find new agents.