SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers will commence negotiations for successor agreements to the SAG-AFTRA TV/theatrical contracts on April 27.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and state government stay-at-home orders, talks will be conducted via video teleconference. SAG-AFTRA’s current three-year master contract expires on June 30.

The two sides announced the agreement to start talks Friday. 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. The lead negotiator for the AMPTP will be president Carol Lombardini.

The parties also announced that the upcoming negotiations will be conducted under a formal media blackout. “We have no further comment at this time,” they said.

The announcement came with uncertainty surrounding the scheduled contract negotiations between Hollywood studios and the Writers Guild of America. Those talks — which were scheduled to start May 11 — have hit a bump over the issue of the guild’s health plan after WGA lead negotiator David Young called his studio counterparts “despicable.”

It’s possible that the start of the SAG-AFTRA negotiations could derail the May 11 start of the WGA’s negotiations. The AMPTP announced on April 18 that it had approved a May 11 starting date and a provision that both sides exchange their negotiating proposals on May 1. Lombardini assented in a letter to the timetable proposed by Young, executive director of the WGA West and lead negotiator.

The potential stumbling block centers on Young’s proposal in his April 15 letter that the WGA Health Fund — which is jointly administered by representatives of the guild and the studios — extend eligibility to plan participants through the end of the year. Lombardini said in the letter to Young that she would need to conduct discussions among studio reps before she could respond.

Young responded in a subsequent letter, “There will be an agreement when both sides agree there’s one. You people are despicable.”

The AMPTP reached an agreement with the Directors Guild of America for a new film and television contract on March 5. The WGA contract is set to expire May 1, although both sides have agreed that they would extend the WGA deal until June 30 — the same date that the current SAG-AFTRA pact expires.

Reps for the AMPTP had no comment about whether the WGA negotiations will still take place on May 11. The WGA did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether the May 11 start date will remain in effect.

SAG-AFTRA’s national board approved the proposals for the feature film-primetime TV contract nearly a year ago in July without disclosing the substance of those proposals. 

At the same meeting, the SAG-AFTRA leaders also approved a separate three-year deal with Netflix that expires one June 30, 2022. That deal did not require ratification by the membership.