SAG-AFTRA Signs Deal With Telemundo

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Variety reported Thursday that SAG-AFTRA has reached a contract deal with Telemundo Television Studios, covering Spanish-language actors and actresses performing in telenovelas.

After over a year of negotiations, the union announced the finalization of the three-year contract deal for Telemundo performers Thursday afternoon.

The contract deal includes “contributions to and participation in the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan and SAG-Producers Pension Plan for the first time; residuals for both foreign and domestic exploitation and streaming platforms, based on a percentage of Telemundo’s gross receipts; guaranteed minimum rates for all covered performer categories (including actors, stunt performers, singers and dancers); and annual increases in all minimums between 1-2% per year.”

Additionally, the deal offers upgraded minimum rates for performers following their ninth day of production on any given film or T.V. show and establishes new working conditions. The new working conditions and safety precautions include a minimum period of rest between calls, qualified stunt personnel, and “provisions regarding protection of minors and overtime, holiday pay, and per diem when on location.”

Gabrielle Carteris, the president of SAG-AFTRA, released a statement, claiming, “This is a historic moment for Spanish-language performers in our industry. I am incredibly proud of our negotiating team and what they have accomplished. I also want to acknowledge Telemundo’s efforts in working with us to reach this agreement: a first contract with residuals, minimums, and pension and health ̶ three pillars that set a strong foundation for generations to come.”

Telemundo Television Studios first voted to unionize in March 2017 after SAG-AFTRA accused the Spanish-language network’s parent company, NBCUniversal, of having a double standard between the English and Spanish language actors hired for particular productions. The Los Angeles Times reported in March of that year that SAG-AFTRA alleged, “Telemundo pays its performers half of what English-language actors earn on other NBCUniversal-owned networks, and that Telemundo doesn’t provide its telenovela actors with healthcare, contribute to their pensions or pay standard overtime or residuals.”

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After that accusation, NBCUniversal announced that Telemundo would then offer healthcare and retirement benefits to Spanish-language actors. At the time, a spokesperson for Telemundo commented that “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.” However, only a mere 15 months later Telemundo has decided to separate from the network, joining SAG-AFTRA instead.

While the new contract deal remains tentative, the agreement is scheduled to be approved by unit members on July 21 during SAG-AFTRA’s national board meeting and is expected to go into effect immediately.