In a sign of ramped-up efforts to combine SAG and AFTRA’s health and retirement plans, SAG-AFTRA national exec director David White, already a trustee on the SAG pension and health plan, has been appointed to the AFTRA health and retirement board of trustees.
The move — which makes White the only trustee on both panels — came Saturday during a meeting of the SAG-AFTRA national board, with the vote coming from the AFTRA “legacy” board, consisting of members who held AFTRA slots before the two performer unions merged in March.
Reps for the union and the plans, which are operated separately, had no comment.
White will fill the slot vacated by AFTRA trustee Stephen Burrow. The explanation given at Saturday’s meeting for the move is that White will be able to aid the merger of the plans.
White is listed as one of 18 union trustees on the SAG plan, while Burrow was one of 11 union trustees for the AFTRA plan.
Proponents of the merger touted the combined SAG-AFTRA as having more power than the individual unions and asserted that combining the unions would be a first step toward combining the separate SAG and AFTRA health and retirement plans — and a move toward solving the problem of performers not qualifying for coverage under separate SAG and AFTRA health and pension plans. That issue was a key in the merger campaign, with opponents complaining unsuccessfully that SAG leaders had not performed an audit on the impact of merging the plans.
SAG-AFTRA leaders received a report Saturday about the progress of “reciprocity” and the merger of the plans but gave no details in their recap of the announcement beyond reporting that “discussions are progressing.” Last summer SAG-AFTRA requested the trustees to hold discussions on how to handle the move logistically.