David White Appointed to AFTRA Health & Retirement Board

4:06 PM PST 02/04/2013 by Jonathan Handel

The appointment comes amid member frustration that the SAG and AFTRA pension, health and retirement plans are still as separate as they were before the unions merged.

In a move designed to advance the process of unifying the SAG and AFTRA pension and health plans, SAG-AFTRA national executive director David White has been appointed to the AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds’ board of trustees, the union confirmed Monday.

The appointment came Saturday during the union’s national board meeting.

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, White confirmed the appointment and added, “I look forward to working on behalf of the Funds’ participants,” referring to union members who receive AFTRA health or retirement benefits.

White was already a trustee of the SAG Pension & Health Plan. The move makes him the only person to serve on both boards – and thus the only person duty-bound to serve two different sets of participants. That may be a tough juggling act as discussions between the two organizations continue.

White replaces AFTRA trustee Stephen Burrow.

SAG P&H and AFTRA H&R are legally independent of the union and each other. Each is governed by a board of trustees composed half of SAG-AFTRA appointees and half of management appointees. SAG P&H has a total of 36 trustees and AFTRA H&R has 22. The union appointees include union staff and members. The management appointees come from the executive ranks of studios, TV networks, and the advertising industry, among others.

Although the unions merged more than 10 months ago, the two P&H/H&R plans have not announced any concrete progress towards unification, which was one of the key arguments for the merger. Members continue to fail to qualify for health coverage or pension credits, sometimes falling short of necessary thresholds by just a few hundred dollars.

According to a statement released by the union Sunday, “the trustees of [the two plans] ... continue formal communications regarding the issue of reciprocity and, ultimately, merger between the plans, and discussions are progressing between the two organizations.”

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