SAG-AFTRA names Crabtree-Ireland national executive director, chief negotiator

A man wearing eyeglasses in a blue suit jacket and pink tie.
Duncan Crabtree-Ireland has been named national executive director and chief negotiator for SAG-AFTRA.

SAG-AFTRA said it has appointed Duncan Crabtree-Ireland successor to David White as national executive director and chief negotiator.

The board of Hollywood’s biggest union, which represents about 160,000 performers, approved a three-year contract for Crabtree-Ireland, its general counsel and chief operating officer, in a special meeting Wednesday. His compensation was not disclosed.

Crabtree-Ireland replaces White, who recently said he would step down from the position he has held since 2009. Crabtree-Ireland will assume the role June 21.

White presided over the merger of SAG with its former rival union, AFTRA.

May 14, 2021


“Duncan is a natural choice, an experienced leader and well respected by members and staff,” SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said in a statement. “I am confident that under his leadership, the union will continue building on the achievements and stability he has overseen working alongside David White over the past dozen years.”

Crabtree-Ireland, 48, had spearheaded the union’s COVID-19 safety measures and participated in negotiations with Hollywood studios over the terms of a return-to-work agreement last fall.

“It is an honor to accept this position and I look forward to continuing to work with members, the National Board, local boards, officers and staff in this new role,” Crabtree-Ireland said in a statement. “Together, we will build on the successes that have been achieved in recent years, as well as strategizing and innovating for the future as we navigate the dramatic changes taking place in our industry.”

Crabtree-Ireland has served as general counsel since 2006 and as chief operating officer since 2014. He was involved in the successful merger between SAG and AFTRA in 2012.

He was lead negotiator for SAG-AFTRA’s music contracts as well and for SAG-AFTRA’s contract with the Telemundo network for Spanish-language productions. Bilingual in English and Spanish, he oversees the union’s bilingual initiative and is a co-host of the “SAG-AFTRA en Español” podcast.

In 2019 SAG-AFTRA gave him the George Heller Memorial Award for extraordinary service to the union. He chairs the board of trustees for the SAG-AFTRA & Industry Sound Recordings Distribution Fund and is also co-chair of the board of trustees of the American Federation of Music & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund, as well as a member of the boards of the SAG-Producers Pension Plan and the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan.


Formerly a criminal prosecutor for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, Crabtree-Ireland received numerous awards for his work, including the Peggy Browning Award and the Co-President’s Award from the Los Angeles LGBTQ+ bar association.

Crabtree-Ireland serves by appointment as a judge pro tem of the Los Angeles County Superior Court. He also has been an adjunct professor at the USC law school.

The Georgetown University and UC Davis School of Law graduate lives in Los Angeles with his husband, John, and their five children.