April 12, 2019
I just wanted to respond to your proposals, because I feel it’s necessary that we be honest about where we are. We granted the one week extension with the sincere hope that we could reach a solution, and there have been a few moments of hope. On the subject of independent features, we appreciate the constructive dialogue we have had. I know it’s the feeling of the feature writers on our committee that the conversations and negotiations have been productive, and that we are close to finding an agreement on that issue that will both protect writers and allow agencies to be properly compensated for the important work they do in this area.
Unfortunately, it is the feeling of this committee that this is the only area where we we’ve made progress. Your proposals on information sharing are entirely inadequate. You continue to refuse to recognize the primacy of the Guild and our legal right to the information as exclusive bargaining representative for writers. Any consultation with an attorney experienced in labor law would confirm you are legally protected in this area, and some of you know it from your own experience with the sports unions. CAA is required to turn over the contracts to the NFL players union within 48 hours. The overwhelming majority of our members want their deal memos, contracts and invoices to go directly to the guild, and the ones that don’t will be our problem to deal with.
Your presentation on packaging was a little confusing, not because we don’t understand it, but because you claimed that we didn’t, and then made a presentation that was very close to the speech I gave to our members. Our overall description of the mechanisms of packaging fees was exactly the same. And you neglected to tell us how much agencies make on the back end. Though we appreciate that you were listening to Mike Schur’s discussion of how important mid and low level writers are to us, your proposal of .8% of your backend of new series in no way realigns your incentives with these writers. You are still receiving money from our employers for access to us, and keeping 99% of the profits of your backend. It does not change your incentives at all. It is not a serious proposal and we reject it.
On your diversity fund proposal, the fact is, it shouldn’t rely on this negotiation. The moral obligation that our industry provide access and opportunity to underrepresented artists of our community is an obligation that we have only begun to address. While we applaud your willingness to confront issues of diversity and inclusion, it shouldn’t be used as a bargaining chip. You should know the comment of the diverse members of this committee upon hearing your proposal, was “We’re not pawns.” We also reject that proposal. And if you really feel that the program you proposed would make a difference, you are free to spend the money you pledged outside of this negotiation.
You have chosen to make no proposal on your affiliates, except to take a “wait and see” approach, which you did not present to us in this room, and so many of us only found out about when we read it in the trades. Even if you had presented it to us, it would still be unacceptable. Despite your protestations to the contrary, these production companies are not independent of your agencies, your private equity investors openly talk about how your leveraging representation of clients to create a production business is why they invested. While we acknowledge that you have made favorable talent deals, they are clearly a loss-leader strategy. We do not need to “wait and see” to know they will disappear when the business settles in. We reject this proposal.
As I said, we granted the week’s extension as a sincere effort to try to find a solution. But it is clear to us that we are not appreciably closer. We are willing to continue meeting with you when you provide a proposal that truly addresses our expressed concerns, but our Friday deadline has arrived and we are moving forward with the implementation of our Code of Conduct and the enforcement of our WGA Working Rule 23. Thank you-