SAG-AFTRA board extends Executive Director David White’s contract

David White, national executive director of SAG-AFTRA, had his contract extended this weekend.
(Stefano Paltera / For The Times)

David White, national executive director of SAG-AFTRA, will continue running Hollywood’s largest entertainment union.

At a meeting in Los Angeles on Sunday, the union’s board approved a new four-year contract with White, whose future at the union had been in question after he emerged as a candidate to run the NBA Players Assn.

But White was passed over for that job this summer when the NBA announced that it had selected Michele Roberts, a Washington attorney, for the position.

“This job presents new challenges every day, and I am thrilled to continue in my role at SAG-AFTRA,” White said in a statement. “I want to thank President [Ken] Howard, our elected officers and national board members for their confidence in me. It’s an honor to represent SAG-AFTRA members, and I look forward to continuing the great work we have accomplished to date.”


The former SAG general counsel joined the guild nearly six years ago as national executive director and guided it through a merger with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. The two unions merged in March 2012.

The former labor and employment lawyer for O’Melveny & Myers has been SAG-AFTRA’s lead negotiator, overseeing negotiations with the major studios this summer for a new three-year film and TV contract that included modest wage increases.

The union also secured a small increase in contributions that producers make to guild members’ pension and health plans. In addition to providing coverage for such big-budget Netflix shows as “Orange Is the New Black,” and “House of Cards,” the producers agreed to pay slightly higher residuals for shows created for advertising-supported Internet sites.

Details of White’s new contract were not disclosed.

“I’m so pleased that we were able to secure a long-term commitment from David,” said Ken Howard, president of SAG-AFTRA, which has more than 165,000 members. “He is a formidable strategic thinker and an outstanding executive. David is equally committed to wisely shepherding our operations and to ensuring good wages and safe working conditions for our members. We are lucky to have him and know we will continue to benefit from his leadership.”

The board also unanimously ratified the recently negotiated basic cable animation agreement. The new contracts, which go into effect immediately and run through June 30, 2017, include pay raises of nearly 9% over the next three years, higher contributions to pension and health retirement funds and a new residual payment for free on-demand viewing.