CAA, WME and the WGA East and West have recently filed a flurry of motions in advance of next Friday’s hearing on the agencies’ request for a preliminary injunction that would end the guild’s boycott against them. In its latest filing, CAA says that the ongoing dispute is no longer about reaching a deal but has morphed into an “animus-driven revenge campaign” that seeks to put them out of business.
In a reply in support of the preliminary injunction, CAA told a federal judge today that it seeks the injunction because “in the last month, the Guilds’ unlawful boycott of CAA has transformed into an animus-driven revenge campaign that is devoid of any legitimate labor-relations purpose and threatens permanent and irreversible damage to CAA’s business. In November 2020, CAA agreed to the same ‘Franchise Agreement’ that the Guilds signed with other talent agencies. Yet the Guilds still boycott CAA, while franchising CAA’s direct competitors (UTA and ICM) on the same terms being denied to CAA. The Guilds encourage writers to sign up with conflicted, unlicensed managers, because, as the Guilds admit, they ‘need to use managers as leverage against CAA.’ The Guilds have decided, out of personal animus admitted by the Guilds’ chief negotiator, to boycott CAA, regardless of CAA’s agreement to the Guilds’ terms, in an effort to destroy CAA’s business.
“Maintaining a group boycott in these circumstances is not a legitimate labor purpose,” CAA added. “The Guilds do not benefit from any ‘labor exemption’ to the antitrust laws. Nor may the Guilds take advantage of the anti-injunction provisions of the Norris LaGuardia Act (NLGA), particularly since they previously admitted that this is not a NLGA case. And even if the NLGA did apply, CAA easily qualifies for a NLGA injunction.
“CAA’s consent to the Franchise Agreement is the core issue before the Court. But the Guilds barely address it. Instead, the Guilds amalgamate CAA with WME (which has distinct issues). The Court should not be distracted. CAA seeks a narrow preliminary injunction, enjoining the Guilds from continuing the boycott given CAA’s agreement to the Guilds’ own terms. The Court should grant the injunction.”
The dispute arose in April, when the WGA ordered its members to fire their agents who refused to sign the guild’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%.