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Unionization Vote Set for Telemundo Performers to Join SAG-AFTRA

Variety logo Variety 1/24/2017 Dave McNary
© Provided by Variety

A unionization election has been set for next month for Telemundo performers to decide whether to join SAG-AFTRA.

The National Labor Relations Board has scheduled the election to begin on Feb. 7 and end March 8. The NLRB-administered vote will be conducted by secret ballot, which will be mailed to eligible Telemundo performers.

SAG-AFTRA accused NBCUniversal a year ago of operating with a double standard between Spanish-language and English-language talent hired for productions under the same parent corporation. SAG-AFTRA made that allegation on the heels of NBCUniversal unveiling plans for a new headquarters in Miami for its Telemundo operations, while Telemundo responded by saying it was committed to making itself a “great place to work” for its employees.

SAG-AFTRA then announced on Aug. 3 that it had ramped up its campaign with union president Gabrielle Carteris saying, “Despite Telemundo’s bravado as a champion of diversity, inclusion, and empowerment for the Hispanic-American community, the company’s actions behind the scenes tell a much different story. In addition to treating its Spanish-language talent as second-class citizens, Telemundo has actively employed tactics to dissuade talent from obtaining union protections.”

The performers union said Monday that Telemundo has surged in primetime ratings largely due to the success of its telenovelas and other scripted dramatic programming. SAG-AFTRA petitioned the NLRB on Dec. 9, 2016, and called for an election.

“This vote is about equity, fairness and the fundamental rights of Spanish-speaking actors in this industry and in our country,” said Carteris. “We have given Telemundo performers our full support as they take this courageous step and we look forward to welcoming them to our family of 160,000 media and entertainment professionals.”

Supporters of unionization include Alec Baldwin, Rosario Dawson, Susan Sarandon, Andy Garcia, Chris Rock, Kate del Castillo, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jaime Camil, Rita Moreno, Scarlett Johansson, Zoe Saldana, and Bryan Cranston.

Telemundo agreed in September that the Latin American Music Awards, which were telecast on Oct. 6, would be covered by a SAG-AFTRA agreement. Telemundo executives not been willing to recognize SAG-AFTRA as the bargaining agent for employees without  unionization election.

“We are proud of the success we have achieved together with our talent through the direct relationship we have enjoyed with them,” a Telemundo spokesperson told Variety on Monday.
“Since SAG-AFTRA first approached us about a year ago, we have invited them to ask for an NLRB election. We are pleased the union now has done this, so that our talent will be able to make a decision for themselves on whether to be represented. As the largest production facility producing Spanish-language, long-format scripted programming in the US, we have created hundreds of high-value jobs for Spanish-language talent and are committed to making Telemundo a great place to work  for them and all our employees.”

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