William Schmidt, the independent candidate running for president of the WGA West, is firing back at the guild leadership for appointing a committee to investigate members who refused to fire their agents – and not e-notifying the guild that they had done so. And Schmidt, who refused to fire his ICM Partners agent, could be one of the first to be called before such a trial committee.
“While individual members have a voice and vote, after the Guild decides on collective action, members are obligated to follow Guild rules, which will be enforced,” the guild said recently in an update of the implementation of its Working Rule 23. “The WGA membership and leadership have ratified this course of action and the membership has a proud history of unity and solidarity. Article X of the WGAW and WGAE Constitutions guides Guild disciplinary procedures. In May the WGAW Board appointed a WR23 Committee to advise the Board and investigate alleged infractions.”
“Here is what Working Rule 23 says in its entirety,” Schmidt posted today on his website. “No writer shall enter into a representation agreement whether oral or written, with any agent who has not entered into an agreement with the Guild covering minimum terms and conditions between agents and their writer clients.”
“That’s it. That’s all of it,” he wrote. “Nothing about ﬁring agents. Nothing about one being in violation for not doing so. If leadership wants to amend any Working Rule, they must put the change to a vote before membership, which they haven’t done.
“Then why misrepresent Working Rule 23? Why threaten fellow members of the Guild? Because the ATA action is failing and leadership is ﬂailing. They’ve made no progress with the Big Four. They’ve dropped the lawsuit that they said was going to end packaging as we know it.
“Instead of admitting their own mistakes and moving on, they need scapegoats. Blame me. Or Phyllis Nagy, as they did at all three membership meetings. Or any other fellow Guild member they can ﬁnd. David Goodman likes to say that the upcoming election is a plebiscite on the ATA action. It’s not. It’s a referendum on leadership and their dangerous and destructive ways of doing business.”
Schmidt is the only WGA member who has openly refused to fire his agent, but insists that he has not, and will not, allow her to procure work or negotiate contracts for him until the dispute with the Association of Talent Agents is resolved. For guild leaders to demand anything more, he says, violates the WGA Constitution.
The guild’s presidential election, in which Schmidt is challenging Goodman and Nagy, is playing out against the backdrop of the guild’s four-month standoff with Hollywood’s talent agencies over packaging fees and agency affiliations with related production entities. The WGA and the ATA haven’t met face-to-face since June 7. Election ballots are due no later than September 16.