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White receives new SAG-AFTRA deal

Three-year contract for national exec director

David P. White has been given a new three-year contract as the national exec director of SAG-AFTRA through May 21, 2015.

The national board of directors of the newly formed SAG-AFTRA approved the pact in its first-ever meeting over the weekend at Beverly Hilton. The performer unions officially merged on March 30.

White, who had been the top exec at the Screen Actors Guild since early 2009, was signed last year by SAG leaders to remain in that post until at least 2014 — whether or not SAG merged with the Americcan Federation of Television & Radio Artists.

“I am pleased with the board’s action and am grateful for their vote of confidence,” White said in a statement Sunday. “We’ve achieved a tremendous success with our recent merger, but there is much more to be done and I look forward to working with the officers, directors and our talented staff team to continue to improve our operations and further empower and serve the members of SAG-AFTRA.”

White’s counterpart at AFTRA, Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, announced in mid-April that she had decided to depart the post.

White was tapped as interim national exec director in early 2009 when the national board’s self-styled moderates ousted Doug Allen amid frustration over Allen’s failure to reach a deal with the majors on a primetime-feature master contract. Allen, a longtime exec with the National Football League Players Assn., had been tapped for the SAG post in the wake of the 2005 ouster of Greg Hessinger by the SAG board, when the self-styled progressives of the Membership First coalition came to power.

In October 2009, the SAG moderates removed White’s interim tag and gave him a two-year deal as he closed agreements on a half a dozen contracts and operated in a low-key manner that contrasted sharply with Allen’s brash approach. White’s initial contract, which ran through February 2012, elevated him into the chief negotiator post; he headed the SAG bargaining team for seven weeks in the fall of 2010, leading to a three-year successor deal on the feature-primetime contract.

White served as the guild’s general counsel from 2002-06 before becoming managing principal of Los Angeles-based Entertainment Strategies Group. He was a labor and employment attorney at O’Melveny & Myers before joining SAG in 2002.

According to SAG’s filing of its LM-2 form with the U.S. Dept. of Labor, White was paid a salary of $452,877 plus disbursements of $21,060 during SAG’s fiscal year ended April 30, 2011. Sunday’s announcement contained no mention of White’s compensation.

“David has clearly shown his management acumen and ability to direct our organization and lead our staff in implementing critical operational initiatives,” said co-presidents Ken Howard and Roberta Reardon. “There is no better person to lead SAG-AFTRA and we are thrilled that he will continue as national executive director.” White’s report to the board covered technology infrastructure, expansion of the online production center and digital contract signatory application, the consolidation of the legacy website content into the SAGAFTRA.org site and the creation of a program to enhance contracts training for employees.

The co-secretary-treasurers Amy Aquino and Matt Kimbrough presented a recommended budget of $95 million for the fiscal year. That budget includes $2.7 million from reserves to cover transition costs of merging the two unions and allocations for upcoming contract negotiations.

SAG-AFTRA leaders also approved a “wages and working conditions” committe to begin prepping for upcoming commercial contract negotiations with the process of seeking member guidance starting July 2. No date has been set for starting talks with the ad industry. The current deal expires March 31.

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