WGA West President David A. Goodman Shoots Down Rumors That Writers Are Returning To Their Agents In Droves: “That Is Not True”

David Robb

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Rumors that writers are returning in droves to the agents they fired in April are not true, according to newly re-elected WGA West president David A. Goodman.

“Anonymous sources are quoted in the media claiming writers have returned to agents in droves,” he said in a message to his members today. “That is not true. The anonymous rumor-mongering by some agencies simply shows how badly they are being hurt by the absence of writers. We are working to make a deal, but in the meantime writing jobs are being filled.

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“Non-franchised agency outreach to writers has increased as agents continue to try to pressure and/or entice their former clients to violate Working Rule 23,” he said. Working Rule 23 prohibits WGA members from being represented by unfranchised agents. In mid-April, more than 7,000 writers fired their agents who refused to sign the guild’s new Code of Conduct, which bans packaging fees after one year and prohibits agency affiliations with corporately related production entities.

In his first message to the guild’s members since he was re-elected in a landslide on Monday, Goodman noted that “turnout was the highest it’s ever been, more than doubling the record set last year. This was due in large part to the fact that this election ended up being a referendum on the agency campaign. It’s important for me to state that though an overwhelming majority of members made it clear that they support the current strategy, all voices were heard, and the elected leaders, whether re-elected incumbents or new to the board, recognize and take into consideration the points of view of all Guild members.”

The guild’s new board of directors, which strongly backs the agency campaign, will meet for the first time on Monday. “Over the next few months,” Goodman said, “elected leaders and staff will intensify our preparations for the 2020 Minimum Basic Agreement negotiations, as well as continue the ongoing strategic work of the Guild that includes enforcement, public policy, research, organizing, workplace initiatives, and all the other services and functions membership has come to expect from their union. We will also obviously continue our work on the agency campaign.”

Noting that the guild has refrained from sending out agency updates during the election cycle, he said that “Because the outcome of the election was seen as possibly affecting our strategy, many agencies explicitly stated they would not negotiate with us during that period, so there isn’t a lot to report.” He noted, however, that the guild “has continued outreach to the remaining unsigned agencies and remains committed to moving the negotiation process forward.”

He then gave brief summary of the guild’s ongoing legal fight with WME, CAA and UTA, adding that that “WME has set a date next week for its IPO, the culmination of its plans to leverage access to talent for its own financial gain. With WME working for the benefit of Wall Street investors, an end to the conflicted practices of packaging fees and producing is more necessary than ever.”

In closing, he praised opposition candidate Phyllis Nagy, and urged members to remain united despite their differences. “I just want to close by saying elections naturally highlight our differences, but they also have a way of reminding us of even more essential things: in the record turnout, of how much this Guild means to all of us; and in the gracious words of Phyllis Nagy, that, in the end, ‘our goals are the same.’ With respect for one another – and with some pride in the fact that we’re willing to fight for ourselves and for each other – let’s take on the long list of challenges that face us. This is a booming, expanding industry, and we’re at the heart of it. It should be an easy time to demand our fair share. But nothing’s easy, so we’ll do what is hard.”

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