The performers union accused NBCUniversal in February 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.
SAG-AFTRA announced a new phase of its campaign on Wednesday at a private event in Coral Gables, Florida.
“Despite Telemundo’s bravado as a champion of diversity, inclusion and empowerment for the Hispanic American community, the company’s actions behind the scenes tell a much different story,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris.
“In addition to treating its Spanish-language talent as second-class citizens, Telemundo has actively employed tactics to dissuade talent from obtaining union protections. SAG-AFTRA strongly opposes such tactics, and I speak for concerned performers and citizens across the country when I say that we stand with Telemundo performers facing this injustice.”
A spokesperson for Telemundo responded with a statement: “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. We are dedicated to Telemundo’s long term success, which has created hundreds of high-value jobs and provided a valuable service to the Hispanic community in the United States.”
The new phase of the SAG-AFTRA campaign includes South Florida community leaders joining an advisory council that opposes the “double standard,” including Doral City Councilwoman Sandra Ruiz, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz, United Teachers of Dade President Karla Hernandez-Mats and labor attorney Mark Richard.
“Hispanic media and entertainment is an important part of the Miami community. We want it to continue growing and that includes all elements of that industry, including the talent,” Diaz said. “I see myself as a bridge between all parties so that together this industry becomes even more prosperous for our local economy.”
Christian de la Campa, who has starred in Telemundo productions “Tierra de Reyes,” “Relaciones Peligrosas,” “La Patrona” and “Santa Diabla,” said in a statement, “We are actors because we have a passion and a love for the craft, but the current environment does not allow us to grow in this space. As such, we think it’s important to provide a solid platform from which future generations of professional Spanish-language actors can successfully build from and succeed in the United States.”
Telemundo announced in February that it was building its new $250 million facility in Miami to house Telemundo Network, Telemundo Studios, Telemundo International, the cable network NBC Universo and all of the company’s digital media operations. SAG-AFTRA noted that the new facility will be ready for the network’s first broadcast of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, after Telemundo outbid rival Univision for the $600 million broadcasting rights.
“As Telemundo reaps the financial benefits of massive growth and record ratings, it is incomprehensible that NBCUniversal would allow such a harmful double standard to persist within its company,” said SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White. “While SAG-AFTRA has enjoyed a productive relationship with NBCUniversal for years regarding English-language talent and programming, it is time for Spanish-speaking performers to receive fair treatment and recognition for their contribution to the company’s continued success. If Telemundo hopes to position itself as the empowering voice of the U.S. Hispanic community for years to come, the unfair double standard must end.”