Three unfair labor practice charges filed against NBCUniversal-owned Hispanic television network Telemundo on behalf of certain telenovela actors by labor union SAG-AFTRA have been settled.
The settlement was reached between the two parties following 12 months of litigation and days before a trial at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
According to SAG-AFTRA, the agreement “corrects the misclassification of Telemundo performers as independent contractors.”
Telemundo did not immediately comment on the settlement.
“This is a major victory for Spanish-language performers,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris, best-remembered for her role in the original FOX series Beverly Hills 90210. “This is an important step towards ending the unfairness that separates Telemundo performers from their English-language counterparts in the television industry. We will not rest until the Telemundo performers work under terms that are fair and just.”
SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White added, “We’re getting closer to achieving our goal of establishing equity for Spanish-language performers and this outcome is a step in the right direction.”
As the artists and performers union sees it, Telemundo’s telenovela talent will now have “all the legal protections that employees have while talent managers, by no longer being forced to take on the responsibilities of the employer for Telemundo talent, will be able to focus on representing talent and supporting their careers, like their English-language colleagues in the rest of the U.S. television industry.”
The settlement also prevents Telemundo from enforcing a rule barring performers from talking about their wages and working conditions, and from prohibiting them from speaking negatively about Telemundo.
Telemundo, SAG-AFTRA says, also agreed to end “all unlawful performer contract provisions and policies that prevented performers from filing charges with the NLRB against Telemundo and required performers to indemnify Telemundo if it was found to have violated any law.”
Telemundo performers on March 8 “overwhelmingly” voted to join SAG-AFTRA. It was the first time since the early 1960s that a group of actors at a major television network sought a unionization election. The vote was conducted in secret, in February, with SAG-AFTRA announcing that the vote tally was 91 to 21 (or 81% to 19%) out of 148 ballots that were sent out on Feb. 7.
SAG-AFTRA and the network “are still negotiating in good faith for a groundbreaking contract covering Spanish-language television talent,” the union notes.
SAG-AFTRA represents approximately 160,000 actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, air personalities, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists and other entertainment and media professionals.