The WGA’s historic victory in its epic legal battle to reshape the talent agency business is expected to pay “unprecedented” dividends in its upcoming film and TV contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers.
Limitations on packaging fees and agency ownership of production entities got most of the press coverage during the guild’s two-year battle with the major agencies, which ended two years ago this month when WME became the last of the major agencies to agree to the guild’s terms.
But the new franchise agreement’s requirement that the agencies share information about the employment of their writer-clients could prove even more important in the guild’s upcoming contract talks, which get underway on March 20. Under that agreement, agencies now are required to provide the guild with invoices, deal memos, contracts and statements of compensation and agent commissions.
The WGA long has had access to members’ contracts, but the new franchise agreement now provides the guild with a plethora of other employment data and compensation trends.
“Information sharing is one of the three pillars of our agency campaign,” the guild said in a recap of the gains it made with the agencies. “Information sharing is essential to advancing the interests of writers, both as individuals and collectively.
“Agency-provided information will allow the guild, in an unprecedented way, to identify and assess industry trends in writer employment, which will aid the guild in negotiating the MBA (Minimum Basic Agreement) and provide writers and their representatives with important over-scale compensation information,” the guild added.
The WGA negotiates minimum pay rates for writers, known as “scale,” but agents negotiate over-scale for their clients, and that information now is in the hands of the guild – a powerful new tool that the guild can use to show whether overall compensation is on the rise or on the decline.
“The guild is already using the information provided by our agency partners to systematically follow up on payment and collect interest for writers who were paid late or who have not been paid at all,” the WGA’s recap says, noting that the guild’s legal department “has collected tens of thousands of dollars in interest on late payments using agency provided information.”