Telemundo Telenovela Performers Vote to Join SAG-AFTRA

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Telemundo telenovela performers have voted to join SAG-AFTRA in a 91-21 vote conducted by the National Labor Relations Board.

The union called the election “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.”

“Unity of mind and spirit makes us all stronger,” said union member Edward James Olmos. “Move with clarity of purpose and stay strong. Sí se puede.”

Actor Luis Guzman said, “Very proud of all those who took a step forward towards equality and the fundamental right of being represented by SAG-AFTRA. In unity y siempre p’alante mi gente!”

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.”

Carteris told Variety that the year-long organizing effort is one of many at the performers union, which has over 160,000 members. “We never stop organizing,” she added.

A Telemundo spokesperson said, “The SAG-AFTRA vote results are in and the majority of the telenovela performers who voted have chosen the union to represent their interests. While we are disappointed with this result, we remain committed to all of our employees and will move forward with the negotiation process after the election results have been certified by the NLRB. We continue to be dedicated to making Telemundo a great place to work and to Telemundo’s long-term success.”

SAG-AFTRA accused NBCUniversal a year ago of operating with a double standard between Spanish-language and English-language talent hired for productions under the same parent corporation. SAG-AFTRA made that allegation on the heels of NBCUniversal unveiling plans for a new headquarters in Miami for its Telemundo operations, while Telemundo responded by saying it was committed to making itself a “great place to work” for its employees.

“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.”

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