In a historic National Labor Relations Board vote, Telemundo performers voted to join SAG-AFTRA in a secret-ballot vote conducted Feb. 7-March 8.
Out of an eligible pool of 148 performers, 81 percent of the votes cast were in favor of union representation. The final tally was 91-21 in favor to unionize. The action covers actors and other on-camera talent but does not include news anchors or other journalists.
Telemundo becomes the first Spanish-language network to be unionized by its talent and the first network in 65 years brought to a union vote.
In 2016, Telemundo overcame its main rival Univision to become the No. 1 rated Spanish-language TV network in prime-time viewership in the U.S. The victory was fueled by Telemundo’s emphasis on original, edgy programming that veered away from traditional telenovela formulas.
But many of the actors who appear in those shows complained they did not enjoy the same benefits — competitive pay, health benefits, working conditions and residuals — as their English-speaking counterparts at NBC. Both networks are owned by NBCUniversal.
The network issued a statement after the vote results were announced.
“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.”