David White steps down as govt director SAG-AFTRA after 12 years

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David White, the nationwide govt director of SAG-AFTRA, is stepping down after a dozen years working Hollywood’s largest union.

White, 52, informed the board on Friday he plans to go away the job this summer time to pursue different, undisclosed alternatives.
In an announcement, the union praised White and mentioned he can be leaving his place this summer time after overseeing an historic merger between two of the business’s largest unions, the launch of technical improvements and shoring up the group’s funds.

“His tenure has been marked by stability and large accomplishment,” SAG-AFTRA President Gabriella Carteris mentioned within the assertion. “I do know that David had alternatives to go away SAG-AFTRA over this previous yr, and the union and I are ceaselessly grateful that he made the choice to remain and see us by means of essentially the most difficult days of the pandemic. On a private word, I’ve labored carefully with David and have seen his brilliance and dedication up shut. I’ll miss having him as a trusted companion.”

In an interview, White declined to specify what his subsequent function can be however mentioned “it’s a super time for me to make this transfer as I think about the following steps in my skilled journey.”

White added: “This group has seen 12 years of progress and stability, and it’s essential to me handy the management baton off to the regular hand of our glorious administration crew.”

White — whose contract was as a consequence of expire in February 2023 — expressed his assist for Carteris and the union’s leaders and employees.

“SAG-AFTRA staff are brilliant, devoted, and targeted day by day on delivering extraordinary member service and time-saving improvements that make working with the union extra environment friendly and efficient,” he mentioned in an announcement.

White, who’s extensively revered in labor circles, has stayed within the job longer than some anticipated, overseeing a union with greater than 160,000 members who embrace actors, stunt performers and broadcast journalists.

In 2014, he was a number one candidate to turn out to be govt director of the NBA Gamers Assn., however he was handed over for that job when the NBA introduced that it had chosen Michele Roberts, a Washington lawyer, for the place.

SAG-AFTRA’s nationwide board on Friday authorised starting negotiations with
with longtime chief working officer and basic counsel Duncan Crabtree-Eire as a doable alternative for White. Crabtree-Eire has served as basic counsel since 2006 and as COO since 2014.

White joined the guild in 2009 as nationwide govt director and guided it by means of a merger with the American Federation of Tv and Radio Artists in March 2012. Two earlier makes an attempt on the merger had been unsuccessful and affected by infighting.

He was extensively credited with bringing stability to the union, which had been roiled by infighting amongst members over the merger and different points.

White served as SAG-AFTRA’s lead negotiator in contract talks with the foremost studios that final yr resulted in wage will increase and enhancements in residuals from streaming companies. The union estimated the worth of the three-year contract masking movement footage, scripted prime-time dramatic tv and new media manufacturing at $318 million.

In 2019, SAG-AFTRA struck its first take care of Netflix to additional defend members whose work is more and more channeled by means of the streaming platform.

Earlier this yr, the union developed agreements for brand spanking new media sectors to cowl the rising influencer business.

Throughout his tenure, SAG-AFTRA developed expertise capabilities that included direct deposits for member residual funds; a sexual harassment reporting platform; and a web-based portal launching in late 2021 that can streamline the method for signing impartial producers.

Together with Carteris, White led the union’s four-year effort to fight sexual harassment within the business and was a key creator of its 2018 sexual harassment code of conduct, prohibiting unaccompanied auditions in personal lodge rooms and residences. The code additionally included requirements for intimacy coordinators.

The union additionally credited White with bolstering its basic fund, which had been depleted earlier than he assumed operational management, and serving to it climate the financial results of COVID-19 pandemic.

Like different unions, SAG-AFTRA was exhausting hit as revenues to the leisure business collapsed. During the last yr, it has had a number of waves of layoffs and diminished employees to about 400, down from 630 in 2012.

White’s whole compensation was listed at $789,669 in a 2020 annual report filed with the U.S. Division of Labor.

The previous labor lawyer hasn’t shied from controversial fights. Earlier this yr, he introduced fees to the union’s board towards President Trump that mentioned the previous TV present host and SAG-AFTRA member had violated the union’s structure by inciting a lethal riot on the Capitol and denouncing his assaults on broadcast journalists who’re additionally a part of the membership. Trump resigned his membership earlier than the vote, however the union went on to to bar Trump’s rejoining.

Final yr, SAG-AFTRA additionally settled a turf warfare with East Coast-based Actors’ Fairness. After a public and bitter spat, the 2 sides got here to an settlement in November over the protection of reside theater that through the pandemic has more and more relied on recording and streaming performances. Whereas SAG-AFTRA believed any filmed content material was inside its purview for organizing, Actors’ Fairness argued that the bigger union was making it more durable for its members to work and entry advantages through the COVID-19 pandemic.

White, SAG’s first Black govt director, has been an outspoken advocate for enhancing variety in Hollywood. He has spoken concerning the depiction of Black males in media and final yr known as on police unions to confront systemic racism after the homicide of George Floyd.

He served as a commissioner for the Business Fee on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality within the Office and is a member of each the Academy of Movement Image Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Tv Arts and Sciences.

White skilled private tragedy in 2018 when his spouse, Susan Watanabe, a TV author who was recognized for supporting progressive candidates and causes in L.A., died on the age of 49 of a mind tumor.

The Michigan native grew up in Kansas Metropolis, Mo., had been basic counsel for SAG and was employed as its govt director on an interim foundation in January 2009, changing Doug Allen. Allen had been ousted after clashing with board members.

A faction often called Membership First that supported Allen and fought towards the union merger opposed White’s hiring and has continued to criticize the union’s management.

The Rhodes Scholar was named nationwide govt director of the newly shaped SAG-AFTRA in Could 2012.

White holds levels from Grinnell School, Stanford Regulation College and the College of Oxford. He labored as a labor and employment lawyer for O’Melveny & Myers.

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