UPDATED with Telemundo statement: SAG-AFTRA is calling on NBCUniversal to end the disparities in labor conditions between its English-language talent at NBC and its Spanish-language talent at Telemundo, the latter of which is not signed to the union’s contract.
“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,” said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris. “In addition to treating its Spanish-language talent as second-class citizens, Telemundo has actively employed tactics to dissuade talent from obtaining union protections. SAG-AFTRA strongly opposes such tactics, and I speak for concerned performers and citizens across the country when I say that we stand with Telemundo performers facing this injustice.”
A Telemundo spokesman issued a statement today in response today: “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. 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.”
Said SAG-AFTRA national executive director David White: “As Telemundo reaps the financial benefits of massive growth and record ratings, it is incomprehensible that NBCUniversal would allow such a harmful double standard to persist within its company. While SAG-AFTRA has enjoyed a productive relationship with NBCUniversal for years regarding English-language talent and programming, it is time for Spanish-speaking performers to receive fair treatment and recognition for their contribution to the company’s continued success. If Telemundo hopes to position itself as the empowering voice of the U.S. Hispanic community for years to come, the unfair double standard must end.”
Said actor Christian de la Campa, who has starred in numerous Telemundo productions in recent years: “We are actors because we have a passion and a love for the craft, but the current environment does not allow us to grow in this space. As such, we think it’s important to provide a solid platform from which future generations of professional Spanish-language actors can successfully build from and succeed in the United States.”
In its latest push to unionize Telemundo, SAG-AFTRA has received support from community leaders in Florida’s Miami-Dade County, where earlier this year Telemundo announced the building of its new $250 million facility to house Telemundo Network, Telemundo Studios, Telemundo International, cable network NBC Universo and all of the company’s digital media operations.
“Hispanic media and entertainment is an important part of the Miami community. We want it to continue growing and that includes all elements of that industry, including the talent,” said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz. “I see myself as a bridge between all parties so that together this industry becomes even more prosperous for our local economy.”
The union’s efforts to organize Telemundo are part of an initiative that seeks to end what it calls “the double-standard practices of Spanish-language television.”