As recently as April 2019, the WGA has advised its members to dismiss their agents if its organizations do not sign the Agency`s new code of conduct. When thousands of scribes cut ties with agents many of them had for years, the code in question actually disconnected the lucrative practice of packaging. After a successful re-election campaign late last year, Goodman was even more encouraged in his anti-packaging stance, both in court and outside the courts. After a long standoff with the WGA, major agencies such as UTA and ICM Partners have signed contracts with the Guild. WME and CAA are the only holdouts among large companies. Eleven months of silence followed, with the ATA ignoring the union and perhaps imagining that the ultimatum was a bluff. Their relationships with their clients were too strong and the authors needed too much to secure their jobs. It wasn`t bluffing. Although the ATA finally retaliated with less than a month to the expiry date, the writers made a counter-offer: the writers put their beaks in the packaging money that agents received from their packaging costs up to 2% of their theoretical packaging allowance, with a status quo for weapons linked to the agency. The negotiating team then left and WGA members voted by 95% in favour of the unilateral implementation of a Code of Conduct agency, which prohibits agencies from collecting packaging fees or owning a film or television production company. A handful of tiny agencies accepted the CoC, but the Big Four and all medium-sized agencies refused, and on April 22, 2019, more than 7,000 authors filed written letters to their agents saying their relationship between the agent and the client was over. No one knew for sure what would happen next. The other two high-level unions, most affected by packaging systems, actors and directors, had already fled the fight and decided to rejoice and pray instead from the sidelines.
Would agencies quickly give in without packaging scripts? Would writers be starving without agents to get work for them? Would some agencies decide that it is more profitable to be in the production sector anyway and to stop being agencies? Would the packaging continue without the authors and everything would be free? Small cracks of solidarity began to form among the members when fear began to develop.