SAG-AFTRA’s David White Blasted Over Mulling NBA Players Assn. Slot (EXCLUSIVE)

David White Sag Afra
Jim Spellman/WireImage

The Membership First faction of SAG-AFTRA has blasted national exec director David White over considering leaving the performers union for a similar post with the National Basketball Players Assn.

Membership First issued the statement Monday, three days after White’s name emerged as a candidate to serve as exec director of NBPA and two days after White told the national board that no final decision has been made.

Membership First took White to task for being involved with the NBPA at the same time that SAG-AFTRA is preparing to negotiate a successor deal to its current contract with production companies, which expires June 30. The faction — which describes itself as progressive — has seen its power erode since 2009 when White’s predecessor was ousted by the national board and again in 2012, when SAG members voted to merge with AFTRA over Membership First’s opposition.

“David White was one of the main architects of the systematic destruction of one of the most respected unions in the world: The Screen Actors Guild,” the statement said. “He used the Guild as a stepping stone to further his profile both financially and professionally, without regard of how his decisions harmed those who paid his lofty salary.”

“Whether he actively petitioned for or was asked to consider the position of the NBPA’s Executive Director, to do so in the midst of SAG-AFTRA’s upcoming television/theatrical contract negotiations, highlights why we voted against his hiring as SAG’s National Executive Director/Negotiator in 2009,” the statement continued. “His consideration of another job, specifically at this crucial time, only illustrates his ego-driven disregard for the union and its members. We wish the union well.”

SAG-AFTRA president Ken Howard responded by insulting Membership First, asserting that the faction carries little clout with union’s 160,000 members, and defending White.

“Just as it was with their opposition to merger, Membership First remains out of touch with members,” Howard said. “Executives of David White’s caliber are rare and informed SAG-AFTRA members are thrilled to have David leading the preparations for our upcoming contract talks.”

White’s message to the national board acknowledged that he had discussed the job switch with Howard.

“I recognize that this news and possible transition will prove challenging for all of us,” White said. “I ask that you keep a couple of things in mind as we move through the days and weeks ahead. First, it is premature to assume that news about my candidacy is equivalent to news about my being hired: No decision has yet been made and no official timeline has been set for such a decision.”

White also indicated that SAG-AFTRA would not be hurt should he depart and alluded to upcoming negotiations on a successor deal to the union’s current three-year master contract. SAG-AFTRA has not yet set a start date for talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which serves as the negotiating arm for the companies.

“It is important to remember that unions are about the collective, not about any particular individual, and that SAG-AFTRA has emerged over these past two years in an operationally and financially strong position as a result of the collective work of our members and staff,” White said. “Our preparation for upcoming negotiations will continue as fully and completely as before, and the day-to-day support for our incredibly diverse and talented membership will continue unabated.”

Membership First did not affix any individual signatures to the statement. The faction’s best-known members on the national board are Martin Sheen and Esai Morales, who ran against Howard last year for the presidency.

Yahoo Sports reported Friday that White had emerged as a front-runner to fill the slot vacated a year ago when the players union’s executive committee voted unanimously to fire Billy Hunter.

White became the interim national exec director of SAG in 2009 after the SAG board ousted Doug Allen, a former NFL player, amid frustration over Allen’s failure to reach a deal on SAG’s master contract with production companies.

White was given a three-year contract extension in late 2011 and SAG-AFTRA’s LM-2 filing with the U.S. Dept. of Labor showed that White received a salary of $541,040 plus $34,755 in expenses for the fiscal year ended March 31.

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  1. boredwthMFalready says:

    Membership Firsters…don’t you know what persona non grata means? Can’t you stay gone? The Membership sent you out to pasture where you belong. Jeez.

  2. SHAFTRA says:

    Re: White’s involvement, election rigging, busting SAG from within, COMCAST connection to SAG’s voting company, Integrity Voting, a shell company for K&H Printers… all here at

  3. DHB says:

    “David White was one of the main architects of the systematic destruction of one of the most respected unions in the world…” Truly ironic words coming from the group that’s sole function has been to destroy the work of others. They killed one merger and tried to kill another, all along claiming they favored a merger “just not THIS deal”…but did they EVER offer an alternative plan? Of course not.

    They killed our agreement with the ATA (Association of Talent Agents) over petty B.S. and left thousands of actors forced to sign General Services agreements, which are much worse than the ATA agreement they killed. Did they even attempt to create a new ATA agreement? Of course not. Membership First has never “created” anything but destruction.

  4. “We hate David White. David White destroyed the Union. David White should never have been hired. Wait, what? He’s thinking of leaving? How dare he!”

    Membership First has been an unfunny joke for almost a decade. They jelly screwed every single thing they were in control of and accomplished nothing. They whine from the sidelines with nary a plan or alternative. They are the most useless cabal of crazy-toons that 5757 has ever seen.

    Good riddance.

  5. Clear as Day says:

    There are numerous reasons why “Membership First” has become synonymous with “Boisterous Failure” in Hollywood. For over a decade, they’ve demonstrated their inability to gauge and represent the best interests of the membership. Since he was hired, David White helped stabilize and strengthen SAG and SAG-AFTRA. He’s a brilliant exec and a powerful advocate for SAG-AFTRA members. Naturally, the MF’ers oppose him. Fools.

  6. Working Actor says:

    “Progressive” indeed! “Membership First” represents the detritus of our union, a union they nearly sank eight years ago with their incompetence and malicious intent. This self-centered cabal of failed anti-unionists continues to attempt to drain SAG-AFTRA of its resources and members’ dues money with nuisance lawsuits and grandiose schemes that reflect their frustration and anger at being overwhelmingly rejected by SAG-AFTRA members time-after-time, in election after election.

  7. Chris says:

    “David White was one of the main architects of the systematic destruction of one of the most respected unions in the world: The Screen Actors Guild…”

    I can’t take these (MF’ers) people seriously.

    Nor, apparently, can the majority of SAG-AFTRA members (see, for example, recent election results.)

    “Systematic destruction”? What are you talking about? If you’re going to make such claims then show us how this “systematic destruction” is taking place. What are your specific examples?

    Our union membership recently approved a great commercial contract. We have one union to negotiate with producers not two (a really bad idea) on future TV contracts. SAG-AFTRA has and is organizing more and more audiobook work as union work (with health and pension contributions.)

    White’s done a great job. If he wants to move on, that’s his right.

    We’ll just have to find another smart guy/gal with negotiating experience to negotiate future contracts. And definitely not go back to the self-destruction of the our-way-or-your-an-anti-union-toady approach of the MF’ers

    Membership Firsters are the Mitt Romney of the entertainment business. They just can’t deal with the fact that they lost big time and only a minority of SAG-AFTRA members buy their hogwash.

  8. Peas and Tanks says:

    I’m sorry. I thought indentured servitude was outlawed in this country. That this team of progressives feels that he should disregard an opportunity to advance his career because it does not satisfy their own selfish ambitions is the definition of the pot calling the kettle black.

    • UFS Insider says:

      Aftra was close to insolvent and White, Howard and Vaugn did not disclose that important fact to the general membership before the merger. This is verified by the Aftra LM-2 and the audit by Price Waterhouse, Coopers and Lybrand. Jonathan Handle of the Hollywood Reporter exposed Aftra’s incompetent balance sheet rife with accounting misinformation such as Aftra reporting it had 20,000 more dues paying members than it actually had. Fair and honest men with nothing to hide are transparent.The SAG members were denied the transparency to make an educated vote.

      White, Howard and Vaugn sold the merger based upon the split earnings fiasco that Howard the coward never challenged. He represented the interest of the financially challenged Aftra and neglected the SAG members best interests. Howard obviously had another agenda.

      I am informed the contracts did not get ratified under Rosenberg (M1st) because Howard and Vaugn lied to him when in final negotiations with the AMPTP. They asked Rosenberg to go back in the room one more time and if the producers wouldn’t give in they would back a strike authorization. Rosenberg obliged Howard and Vaugn. The producers wouldn’t give an inch however instead of keeping their promise to Rosenberg Howard and Vaugn walked out on him and did not back the strike authorization vote. They then blamed him for coming up with an empty contract and fired Doug Allan who kicked ass for the NFL players association. Allan created the NFL’s merchandising arm so the public was able to buy NFL jerseys and hats etc from all of their favorite teams. A big financial success. He was in the process of doing the same for SAG when he was ousted by Vaugn and Howard. Merchandizing big name actors still should be done as well as the brand of (SAG) Aftra.

      The merger was more of a financial bail out of Aftra as evidenced by their balance sheet/financial statement. Interesting Howard did not back his partner in crime Reardon and threw his support to Mike Hodge for NY SAG President. Reardon had no credentials to run a pizza parlor let alone Aftra as evidenced by Aftra’s financials.

      Howard misleads with the statement SAG/AFTRA is 160,000 members strong. 30,000 of them did not pay their dues that leaves 130,000 active and I believe only 30,000 actually earn enough money to qualify for health insurance.The only actors who make a good living are the top 5% and the other 25% who qualify for insurance earn 15 to 60k a year. !60,000 members strong Ken? Really?

      The fiasco of this merger is like a balance sheet recession where SAG closed 10 offices fired 40% of it’s staff and still had to take 3 million dollars from the unclaimed residuals trust fund that belongs to actors due residuals and took the other 7 million from SAG’s investment fund. Our finances are strong you say, Mr. Howard? According to what metric? Are we financially better off now or when Rosenberg was President? According to the LM-2 Rosenberg wins by a landslide.

      All Presidents have their shortcomings including Rosenberg but the waste of dues paying members money on this merger and numerous failed attempts is well over 10 million dollars, not to mention the 40 million dollars SAG wasted on rent over the last 10 years at 5757 Wilshire Blvd. The collective past Presidents, Executive Staff and the bureaucracy of some of the incompetent, egotistical business neanderthals on our National Board over the past decade are responsible. Respectfully they mean well and they are not fit to make most financial decisions. We have professional money managers running our pension and investments for a reason. They are professionals. I request actors stick to acting and leave the business to trained educated professionals.

      After all that pain the arrogant national board voted up David White a raise after laying off all those employees and placing them on the unemployment lines? In my opinion and reflected in the SAG LM-2s the national board is financially incompetent and should be replaced with MBA’s who understand business rather than actors who mean well and “act” like their business professionals.

      The Merger is a complete failure and the split earnings issue between SAG and Aftra is not solved (they sold the merger on the falsehood that the split earnings problem would be solved, it’s not) and there is no impact study scheduled to analyze the financial viability and impact on merging the 2 plans. I wonder why? White is a pension trustee along with Vaugn and Aquino. If the pension was in shape to merge a study would have been ordered by the board long ago as the constitution did give them the right to do so and should have been performed before the merger was brought to the membership.

      There is no company in the world that would merge with out proper financial due diligence. Mr. White being a Rhode Scholar should know this and yet he ignored a basic principle of business. Why? SAG’s position is they did a “Feasibility Study”. They told the membership that the “Feasibility Study” was their “due diligence” . Note the word, “Feasibility”. Its a play on words. It is feasible that one plan may merge with another. It is also lawful that one plan may merge with another. It’s also feasible that if it’s cold outside people wear coats. That is a general statement that applies “generally” to all pensions in the USA and does not provide information that has anything to do with the FINANCIAL IMPACT on the merging of the SAG pension plan with the Aftra plan. If SAG was a publically traded company they would surely face a shareholder derivative suit for not performing the necessary financial analytics to protect its shareholders. Would the NBA hire someone with questionable business acumen? We’ll see.

      Lastly the service at SAG/Aftra since the merger is the worst in the history of the Guild. Our residuals are over 60 days late and our contracts hardly get enforced. Our employees are understaffed and do not have the man power to service the membership. I guess the current National Board believed David White needed that raise more than SAG/Aftra needed to hire more business reps or residual processors. The members who voted them in deserve the leadership they have. How’s that working out for you? I invite you to change your consciousness and affect a change for the better, we can and will do it.

      The solution is to direct, write, produce and own and sell your own content.

      • boredwthMFalready says:

        UFS “Insider” thanks for the laugh. I almost did a spit take while reading the “funnies” I mean, your post.

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