The months-long campaign by SAG-AFTRA against NBCUniversal to unionize Spanish-language performers on Telemundo is heating up on the TV screen.
In its latest push, the labor union aired a 30-second commercial on Thursday that called for parity in pay between English-language and Spanish-language talent at the network’s parent company, NBCUniversal. It aired on Spanish-language stations in Los Angeles, New York and Miami.
“SAG-AFTRA’s goal is to ensure all talent, regardless of their race, ethnicity or language, have fair wages and certain protections,” the union said in a statement. “As a leading voice for the Hispanic American community, this should be Telemundo’s priority as well.”
The call for action centers on actors in scripted dramatic programming, primarily telenovelas. The labor union claims there is a “double-standard” that exists between Spanish-language talent and English-language talent hired under the same parent corporation. Telemundo pays Spanish-speaking performers less than half of their English-speaking counterparts at NBC, the union says.
SAG-AFTRA also contends that Telemundo does not provide health benefits and other basic protections provided to English-speaking performers at NBC.
Telemundo is not under contract with SAG-AFTRA. Its sister company NBC, however, has long been a union signatory.
In a statement, Telemundo said the Miami-based company supports “our employees’ right to join and not join a union,” and that they should be able to conduct a secret ballot election to decide whether to join SAG-AFTRA.
“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,” the company said.
The Thursday ad, which is also available in English and Spanish on the union’s website, said: “It’s time to end this double standard and demand fair treatment for all performers — not just those who speak English.”
Telemundo and Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, refused to air the commercial during the network’s live broadcast of its awards show, Premios Tu Mundo, saying it did not not pass their legal standards for advertisements.
“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,” the union said.