The William Morris Endeavor (WME) has filed an antitrust lawsuit in California federal court alleging that the Writers Guild of America (WGA) has organized an unlawful group boycott against the talent agencies.
For months, the WGA has been negotiating a “Code of Conduct” with the Association of Talent Agents (ATA) with the writers demanding that the agents no longer collect packaging fees, an activity that has been around for decades where in return for their services the agents collect compensation from the production studio in lieu of taking it from their clients. The writers also object to how talent agencies often receive profit participation from studios or affiliate with companies producing or distributing content. They argue that such practices represent a conflict of interest and a breach of fiduciary duties.
The WGA directed their members to fire their agents en masse and then sue WME, and other big talent agencies, when a resolution could not be reached with the ATA. In return, the WME is now suing WGA for leading an illegal boycott in an antitrust lawsuit.
According to a recent publication by The Hollywood Reporter, leading the latest escalation of the fight is Jeffrey Kessler and David Greenspan, attorneys at Winston & Strawn who have long represented unions, especially in the sports arena.
“Antitrust law’s protection of market competition can be in conflict with labor law’s protection of collective bargaining,” states the complaint. “Balancing the two, Congress and the courts have granted certain union activity a limited statutory or non-statutory labor exemption to the antitrust laws. When a union crosses the limits of activity protected by the labor exemptions, its conduct becomes fully subject to antitrust scrutiny just like any other organization. WGA has crossed those limits here by coercing members and non-members alike into a network of anticompetitive agreements that restrain competition in commercial markets over which WGA lacks any legitimate labor law authority or interest.”
To learn more about the WME Lawsuit visit www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/wme-alleges-writers-guild-leading-an-illegal-boycott-antitrust-lawsuit-1220562