SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles Local Executive Director Ilyanne Morden Kichaven taking a selfie with member and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at the inaugural SAG-AFTRA Convention at L.A. Live. SAG-AFTRA will hold its third convention later this year.
May 1 was International Workers Rights Day. This is always a time reminding us to celebrate good jobs, fair working conditions and livable wages. Together, we unite for fairness and justice.
Having just passed this day, it is particularly meaningful that we also recognize and condemn injustice. SAG-AFTRA voiceover performers who work in the interactive game industry are approaching six months of striking against certain employers. These members are resolute in their determination to reach a modern, industry-standard contract in video games for themselves and their future colleagues.
Another sector of our membership is equally as persistent in its struggle for fair and livable rights. Last August, an overwhelming majority of employees performing on-air services at two Los Angeles Spanish-language radio stations, La Raza and MEGA, proudly voted 21 to 1 in favor of SAG-AFTRA representation; they are owned and operated by Spanish Broadcasting System Inc. (SBS). The landmark vote resulted, triumphantly, in the first Spanish-language radio stations ever organized in the No. 1-rated Spanish-language radio market in the United States: Los Angeles.
Although negotiations commenced in September, they have been difficult, and to date SBS has failed to make any substantive wage proposals. Additionally, SBS continues to pay employees below the exempt wage threshold, deny meal breaks and access to bathrooms during live and remote events, and has halted payment of talent endorsement fees.
In March, SBS terminated eight members of the SAG-AFTRA bargaining unit, including well-known personalities, and canceled negotiations. In response, SAG-AFTRA has filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB and is taking steps to urge SBS to bargain in good faith to achieve a fair contract.
Bad employers harm everyone, and the more obstinate they choose to be, the more they erode and chip away at the hard-fought gains and wins of all workers. Spanish Broadcasting System's blatant refusal to engage in good-faith bargaining is unacceptable and mirrors the repugnance of the intransigent video game producers that we are striking.
We must all stand together, in solidarity, as we support assiduous workers, especially SAG-AFTRA members, whenever there is wrongdoing. As a great man once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Ilyanne Morden Kichaven
SAG-AFTRA L.A. Local Executive Director