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SAG-AFTRA to Begin Formal Contract Negotiations With Producers on Wednesday

SAG-AFTRA and Hollywood producers are launching formal negotiations on a successor deal on Wednesday — a month before the June 30 expiration of the current three-year agreement.

The union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers made the announcement on Tuesday and disclosed that the talks will take place at AMPTP headquarters in Sherman Oaks, Calif. SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris will chair the union’s negotiating committee and national executive director David White will serve as SAG-AFTRA’s chief negotiator. AMPTP’s lead negotiator will be president Carol Lombardini.

“The upcoming negotiations will take place under a formal news blackout and neither party has further comment,” the announcement concluded.

The two sides began informal negotiations on May 17. Key issues for the union are likely to include employer contributions to shore up the separate SAG and AFTRA pension plans; dealing with options and exclusivity rules due to shortened seasons in TV, also known as the “span” issue; and changes in how performers are compensated for travel.

SAG-AFTRA, which reps about 160,000 performers, began the informal talks two weeks after the down-to-the-wire negotiations by the Writers Guild of America with the production companies. The writers reached a tentative deal with AMPTP an hour before the May 2 expiration of the contract, after unnerving the industry with a strike authorization endorsement supported by 96.3% of members who voted.

The WGA achieved significant changes in the compensation structure for short-order TV series, forcing the studios to recognize the financial strain for TV writers as the industry norm has shifted to shows with six-13 episodes per season, rather than the broadcast norm of 22-24.

SAG-AFTRA leaders approved a contract proposal for a successor deal with the production companies on Jan. 22, but it did not disclose details of the package. The close-to-the-vest approach is similar to that employed by the Directors Guild of America, which reached a tentative deal in December for a new contract that goes into effect on July 1 and includes a major gain in streaming residuals.

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