SAG-AFTRA's David White 'Discussed the Possibility' of Leaving for NBA Players Union

David White

The labor exec acknowledged that he's in contention to lead the NBA Players Association, which is reportedly meeting candidates Saturday in New Orleans.

SAG-AFTRA’s David White acknowledged Friday in an email to the SAG-AFTRA board that he’s a candidate to lead the NBA Players Association. 

“As you may have read in news reports today, my name has been mentioned as a candidate for a position with another union, the NBA players association,” White said in an email obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “I have discussed this possibility with the President,” he added, referring to SAG-AFTRA president Ken Howard.

White – who is SAG-AFTRA’s national executive director, and has led SAG-AFTRA or SAG starting in 2009 – also said he had not been hired. “No decision has yet been made and no official timeline has been set for such a decision.”

The NBA Players Association is meeting Saturday in New Orleans with candidates for the job of executive director, according to a Bloomberg News report, but no decision will be made at that time.

The Bloomberg report cited Ron Klempner, the NBAPA’s acting executive director, as saying that candidates will meet with the union’s executive committee and player representatives Saturday, but that no vote would be taken on whom to offer the job.

The possible departure of White would come at awkward time for SAG-AFTRA, because its triennial contract negotiations are expected to begin within a few months with White is (at least currently) the chief negotiator. The WGA is negotiating now, and the DGA ratified its deal last month.

White’s email implicitly acknowledges the difficulty, saying “I recognize that this news and possible transition will prove challenging for all of us,” but adding, “Our preparation for upcoming negotiations will continue as fully and completely as before.”

Top SAG-AFTRA leadership with broad negotiating experience include senior advisor John McGuire, chief contracts officer Ray Rodriguez and chief operating officer and general counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. One of them might step into the role of chief negotiator if White departs.

A SAG-AFTRA spokeswoman previously declined to comment, and White had not responded to a voicemail.

The New York based Players Association – the union for pro basketball players – has been without an executive director since Billy Hunter was fired last February by a unanimous vote of player representatives.

White was national executive director of SAG starting in 2009 and led the union during its merger with AFTRA in 2012. A graduate of Stanford Law School and a Rhodes Scholar, White was a labor and employment attorney at O’Melveny & Myers before joining the staff at SAG, where he served as general counsel from 2002 to 2006. He is a graduate of Grinnell College, where he was a football quarterback.

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