A bitter labor battle between SAG-AFTRA and Hispanic media company Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS) impacting its two FM radio stations in Los Angeles has ended.
The two parties have reached a settlement, and SAG-AFTRA values it at nearly a half-million dollars.
The agreement between SBS and SAG-AFTRA puts to rest a matter that began in March 2017, when eight employees of KLAX-FM 97.9 and KXOL-FM 96.3 exited the stations. SAG-AFTRA claims the individuals were unlawfully terminated in retaliation for exercising their right to unionize.
SAG-AFTRA took a somewhat dramatic take on the settlement’s finalization, noting that attorneys for both sides “negotiated on the courthouse steps while an imminent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) trial and threat of a federal court 10(j) injunction loomed over SBS.”
In October, the NLRB issued a formal complaint against SBS after finding merit to a myriad of serious unfair labor practice charges filed by SAG-AFTRA against SBS for “discharging employees in retaliation for their union activity and engaging in egregious bad faith surface bargaining during first contract negotiations.”
Under the agreement, all employees receive full backpay, interest and expenses through January 14, 2018.
SBS offered the choice of reinstatement or significant front pay to all eight employees; most chose to return to work to their former positions at SBS, SAG-AFTRA noted late Tuesday. “A few elected to move on and receive front pay,” the union said.
The agreement provides that SBS must engage in good faith bargaining with the goal of obtaining a collective bargaining agreement, and requires a rigorous bargaining schedule.
SBS has agreed that by mid-January, it will provide to SAG-AFTRA an economic proposal, including specific dollar figures for wages and fees to be paid to bargaining unit members.
“I feel completely vindicated, happy and strong that the fight was worth every second, every tear and every drop of sweat,” said Felix Castillo, “DJ Mr. Boro,” an on-air personality. “We have a lot of work to do. We have to achieve industry wide changes but I am very happy that SBS/Los Angeles was the first step and I am looking forward to being a part of the lasting change in the radio industry.”
Erika Garza, “La Huerquilla,” a former SBS on-air talent, added, “On behalf of the team, I want to say thank you to the community for supporting us. We feel very blessed that our federally protected right to unionize has been recognized. We are excited for the next chapter of our professional lives and intend to achieve a contract with SBS. We hope our experience inspires those living in the shadows to step up.”
SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris, best known for her role on the original “Beverly Hills 90210,” said, “This is a significant victory for these union members and an incredible symbol of hope for workers fighting for economic justice across our country. This win sends a message—loud and clear—that employers will not be able to get away with terminating employees who exercise their right to unionize. We still have a hard fight ahead to achieve a fair union contract for the reinstated SBS employees and their co-workers, but we are optimistic that we will prevail. SAG-AFTRA will not rest until there is justice at SBS.”
SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White, added, “Our team fought hard to ensure that the unlawfully terminated employees would be able to exercise their right to reinstatement, but our work isn’t done. We are ready for the next steps and look forward to returning to the bargaining table in January to ensure that these professionals obtain a just contract.”