In an historic election that will impact Spanish-speaking actors in the United States for years to come, Telemundo telenovela performers have voted to join SAG-AFTRA.
The final tally in the election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was 91 – 21 in favor of membership. Marking the first time in 65 years that a group of actors at a major television network sought a unionization election, the vote is a momentous step toward ending the double standard that has existed for decades between Spanish-speaking performers at Telemundo and their English-speaking colleagues at NBC. Telemundo is the largest employer of Spanish-language talent in the United States. The new bargaining unit will cover actors, stunt performers, singers, and dancers working on telenovelas produced in the United States.
“I congratulate Telemundo performers and welcome them to our family of actors and professionals,” SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said. “This vote sends a powerful message of hope and solidarity at a critical moment in the history of our union and of the creative community. Regardless of the language we speak, we can all unite to improve conditions for performers working professionally in our industry. Telemundo performers have laid a foundation that will improve lives for generations to come.”
The secret ballot election began on February 7 and ended today, when performers’ mail-in votes were counted at the NLRB’s Regional Office in Tampa, Fla. SAG-AFTRA will now begin preparation for negotiations on behalf of its new bargaining unit.
“Voting to join SAG-AFTRA under these circumstances required tremendous courage,” SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White said. “I want to whole-heartedly congratulate Telemundo performers for their collective effort and I welcome them to our worldwide professional family. We know this vote also will help Telemundo grow and flourish and we look forward to negotiating with them to achieve a fair first contract for our members.”
In the coming weeks, SAG-AFTRA will meet with performers to discuss contract proposals surrounding issues of fair pay, residuals, benefits and on-set safety measures. This election also signals the union’s commitment to continue organizing on behalf of all Spanish-language media in the United States.
“I am proud of my fellow actors for taking this bold step that puts us on a path toward equality in the entertainment industry,” said performer Pablo Azar. “We are making history today, and we look forward to Telemundo’s continued success as we work together toward changes and equality in the industry.”
“Unity of mind and spirit makes us all stronger. Move with clarity of purpose and stay strong. Sí se puede,” said performer Edward James Olmos.
“Very proud of all those who took a step forward towards equality and the fundamental right of being represented by SAG-AFTRA,” performer Luis Guzman said. “In unity y siempre p’alante mi gente!”