Telemundo Actors Vote Overwhelmingly to Join SAG-AFTRA
Actors at the Spanish-language TV network Telemundo have overwhelmingly voted to unionize with SAG-AFTRA, bringing to a close a protracted dispute between Hollywood’s largest union and NBCUniversal, which owns the network.
SAG-AFTRA said Wednesday that 81% of eligible voters chose to unionize in a balloting process that began February 7 and lasted four weeks. The union said that a total of 124 individuals submitted anonymous mail-in ballots, with 91 voting in favor of the measure and 21 against it. Twelve ballots were challenged and weren’t counted.
The vote was administered by the National Labor Relations Board, which chose the 124 participants based on the amount of time actors have worked on the network’s popular telenovela dramas and other shows.
Miami-based Telemundo, which was acquired by NBCUniversal in 2001, is the largest employer of Spanish-language performers in the US, providing work for hundreds of actors on its programs.
On Wednesday, a Telemundo spokesperson said in a statement that “while we are disappointed with this result, we remain committed to all of our employees and will move forward with the negotiation process after the election results have been certified by the NLRB.”
The spokesperson added: “We continue to be dedicated to making Telemundo a great place to work and to Telemundo’s long-term success.”
In the past, SAG-AFTRA has asserted that Telemundo pays its performers half of what English-language actors earn on other NBCUniversal-owned networks, and that Telemundo doesn't provide its telenovela actors with healthcare, contribute to their pensions or pay standard overtime.
NBCUniversal has stated that Telemundo would start offering healthcare and retirement benefits to performers starting in 2017, but declined to elaborate.
SAG-AFTRA began its fight with NBCUniversal about 15 years ago, arguing that the company maintains a double standard by allowing its English-language performers to unionize while refusing the same right to Spanish-speaking actors.
Last year, the union produced a commercial blasting NBCUniversal. The company refused to air the Spanish-language spot during Telemundo’s live broadcast of its popular Premios Tu Mundo award show.
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