SAG-AFTRA Continues Fight for Union Contracts for SBS Employees

SAG-AFTRA is upping the ante in its multiyear quest for a contract with the Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS), a large owner and operator of Hispanic radio stations (namely La Raza and Mega) in the United States and Puerto Rico.

Yesterday, about 200 members and employees of SAG-AFTRA, which is part of the AFL–CIO, wore shirts in support of SBS employees as they took to the streets in protest outside the company’s Los Angeles offices. The carefully coordinated, multi-hour effort also featured signs that stated, in no uncertain terms, protesters’ desire to bring SBS executives to the negotiating table in earnest.

Speaking at the very public initiative, SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris noted that her organization has been unable to secure a deal with SBS during the last three-and-a-half years, and that she believes “it’s time for SBS to step up and negotiate.”

Additionally, SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles President Patricia Richardson offered words of encouragement to the crowd, as did the union’s national executive director, David White.

Building on the protest, SAG-AFTRA has posted a brief guide on its website; the guide’s text indicates that the union is seeking better pay, enhanced bargaining options, and bolstered job security for on-air SBS employees. Webpage visitors are also asked to back the cause by signing a digital petition.

Last month, the National Labor Relations Board’s acting regional director, Joanna Silverman, revealed that SBS may have violated elements of 1935’s National Labor Relations Act in its 100-plus negotiation sessions with SAG-AFTRA. An official hearing is scheduled for March 30th.

Mega and La Raza team members voted in favor of unionization in August 2016, and affiliate station La Ley followed in September 2018. However, SAG-AFTRA has been unable to close a union-approved deal with SBS. Some believe that this point is indicative of SAG-AFTRA’s inability to serve all of its members, and specifically, to assist non-actors. The union represents actors, journalists, voice actors, singers, recording artists, and other media professionals, having formed in the 2012 merger between the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Beverly Hills, 90210 star Gabrielle Carteris has led SAG-AFTRA since 2016 and was reelected in August 2019. The 59-year-old also serves as vice president of the California Labor Federation.

SBS CEO Raúl Alarcón Jr. has disputed SAG-AFTRA’s claims of employee mistreatment.