Twenty six years after a group of KVEA Telemundo 52 reporters tried and failed to get union representation, the current on-air talent at the Los Angeles station has succeeded.
On an overwhelming 18-1 vote, anchors and reporters have been recognized as a bargaining unit of SAG-AFTRA. The election, which took place by mail over the span of two weeks, was overseen by the National Labor Relations Board.
The results were officially made known by SAG-AFTRA on Friday, January 20.
Contract negotiations are expected to start over the next few months.
In a SAG-AFTRA release, organizing committee representatives stated: “We look forward to working with management on improving the working conditions for KVEA-TV’s extraordinary talent who exist as part of Los Angeles’ biggest duopoly, but lack the same working conditions that our peers receive.”
Among the issues to be discussed is providing additional pay for Spanish-language Telemundo talent who report in English for NBC.
Inside sources shared they started a move to organize in 2022, after sensing the new GM of the Los Angeles NBC and Telemundo duopoly, Todd Mokhtari, would be receptive.
They said that under prior management they were afraid to even reach out to SAG-AFTRA for fears of retaliation and termination, given the history of prior attempts to unionize.
In 1996, after an AFTRA election ended in a tie vote, the contracts of six pro-union reporters were not renewed or terminated.*
Despite sharing a newsroom with KNBC – a SAG-AFTRA shop – for many years, Telemundo Los Angeles anchors and reporters remained non-union until now.
SAG-AFTRA already represents on-air talent at Telemundo stations in New York, Chicago and Washington D.C. After a years-long effort, the union signed a contract to represent actors and performers at Telemundo Studios.
*Disclosure: I was among the six reporters laid off as a result of the then AFTRA election.