March 15, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Miami, FL – Actors at the Spanish-language TV network Telemundo have voted by a 4–1 margin to join SAG-AFTRA, the union announced Mar. 8. “This is a historic moment,” SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris told the Los Angeles Times.
“Those performers deserve to have protection.” Telemundo, owned by NBCUniversal since 2001, is the largest employer of Spanish-language performers in the United States—unlike its chief competitor, Univision, which licenses its dramatic shows from a union network in Mexico. SAG-AFTRA has accused Telemundo of paying performers half of what actors get on NBCUniversal’s English-language networks, not paying overtime or residuals, and not giving them health care or pensions. The union hopes to win those in contract talks, said Susan Davis, a lawyer who represents SAG-AFTRA. The deal would cover primarily performers in “telenovela” soap operas, including actors, guest stars, dancers, and stunt workers. “We have a voice now,” said Pablo Azar, 34, an award-winning actor who’s appeared in more than half a dozen Telemundo telenovelas—yet last fall, was working as an Uber driver in Miami to make money between jobs. “We can actually decide how we want our future to be.” Read more