CAA Tries To End WGA Standoff in Hollywood

In Hollywood, agents still rule. Two really big ones, the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) have been locked in a feud for the past 18 months over packaging fees and ownership interests (aka money and let’s call it respect).

CAA asked a federal judge Tuesday to issue a preliminary injunction that would force the WGA East and WGA West to drop their group boycott against the agency. The move comes just two months after CAA said that it thought it had a deal with the guilds to end their long-running legal battle over packaging fees and its affiliation with wipp, its corporately related production entity. The WGA guilds, however, said no such deal had been reached, citing outstanding issues over the agency’s reduction of its ownership of wiip.

Now CAA wants U.S. District Court Judge André Birotte Jr. to end the standoff by ordering the guild to allow CAA’s writer clients to return to the agency, and to order the WGA to refrain “from utilizing or threatening any form of union sanctions or discipline against any Guild member for engaging CAA as a talent agent.”

The dispute arose in April 2019 when the guilds ordered all of their members to fire their agents who refused to sign the WGA’s Code of Conduct, which banned packaging fees and agency affiliations with related production companies. Since then, every major agency except CAA and WME have signed a modified code that phases out packaging fees and reduces ownership interests of production companies to just 20 percent.

CAA said in its motion filed Tuesday that it “has established that entry of a preliminary injunction is appropriate because (1) CAA is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) CAA is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief; (3) the balance of equities tips in CAA’s favor; and (4) an injunction is in the public interest.”

“CAA has established that it is likely to succeed on the merits that the Guilds’ refusal to franchise CAA violates Section 1 of the Sherman Act,” the agency’s motion says (read it here). “First, CAA has shown that the so-called ‘statutory labor exemption’ is unlikely to apply, because CAA has established that there is a ‘serious question’ as to whether the Guilds’ refusal to accept CAA’s acquiescence to the Guilds’ own conflict-of-interest terms is a legitimate union action such that the statutory labor exemption does not apply to the Guilds’ conduct.”

CAA also claims that it “has established sufficient evidence to raise ‘serious questions’ that the Guilds’ boycott does not primarily affect the parties to the Code of Conduct ‘and no one else.’ CAA has also presented evidence suggesting that the Guilds’ agreement does not primarily concern wages, hours, or conditions of employment, since the Guilds’ group boycott continues despite CAA’s agreement to the Guilds’ conflict-of-interest requirements applicable to other agencies.

The WGA has not responded. Thus, although CAA is in full compliance with the WGA’s stated requirements to be a franchised talent agency and has agreed to sign the WGA’s franchise agreement identical to ICM’s, the WGA continues to refuse to franchise CAA.

A CAA spokesperson said: “Rather than respond to the negotiating committee’s unsworn public statement today, we choose to stand on the sworn testimony we submitted to the court this afternoon. We remain ready to meet the Guild at the negotiating table to finalize a deal. If they remain unwilling, we will see them in court.”

So the stage Is set for the upcoming court battle to determine which group may “never work in this town again!” Disputes like this one (and even dumber ones) are everywhere! And when those terrible things affect YOU and YOUR business including landlord/tenant matters, contract issues, nuisance ADA claims including ADA-friendly websites and even collections, call in the good guy business litigator, Dean Sperling to resolve YOUR matter with YOUR best interests in mind!

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