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SAG-AFTRA has upped the pressure in its campaign to unionize Telemundo by airing a 30-second advocacy spot on Spanish-language stations in Miami, New York and Los Angeles, after Telemundo itself refused to air the ad.
“Telemundo’s decision to censor 30 seconds of truthful commentary about its working conditions shows just how averse it is to having a transparent discussion about its refusal to fairly compensate Spanish-speaking performers,” said the union in a statement. “SAG-AFTRA’s goal is to ensure all talent, regardless of their race, ethnicity or language, have fair wages and certain protections. As a leading voice for the Hispanic American community, this should be Telemundo’s priority as well.”
A Telemundo spokesperson responded, “After legal review, we have concluded the ad did not pass legal standards for issue-based advertisement.”
The union’s organizing campaign underscores that while Telemundo has declined to sign a union agreement, its sister companies, such as NBC and Universal, have long been union signatories. All are subsidiaries of NBCUniversal and ultimately Comcast, which has fought unions in its cable TV operations.
Said the Telemundo spokesperson, “At Telemundo we support our employees’ right to join and not to join a union. Our talent and employees are capable of deciding what is in their own best interest. For that reason we believe our talent should exercise their freedom of choice to join a union or not, in a secret ballot election, a democratic process established by the National Labor Relations Board.”
According to SAG-AFTRA, Telemundo pays Spanish-speaking performers less than half of their English-speaking counterparts at NBC, does not pay residuals and doesn’t provide health benefits or other protections provided to English-speaking performers at NBC.
“We remain committed to making Telemundo a great place to work for our employees and will continue to invest in them to ensure their salaries and working conditions are competitive,” said the network’s spokesperson. “We are dedicated to Telemundo’s long-term success, which has created hundreds of high-value jobs and provided a valuable service to the Hispanic community in the United States.”
SAG-AFTRA noted that Telemundo recently claimed the top ratings spot over Univision for the last five consecutive weeks for the first time in the network’s history. According to the union, in an internal letter dated Aug. 17, Telemundo president Cesar Conde credited talent with helping the network reach this new milestone, saying: “This is a historic achievement of which we are all very proud. Clearly, Telemundo talent has played a very important role in this achievement.”
Aug. 26, 7:40 p.m.: Updated with Telemundo response.
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