SAG-AFTRA took its grievances against Spanish Broadcasting System to the streets on Tuesday, hosting a community forum at the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor that included local elected officials, members of the Los Angeles labor community, SAG-AFTRA executives and members, and DJs from SBS.
The Hispanic broadcasting group is being sued by SAG-AFTRA over multiple allegations of unlawful firings and unfair wages, as Inside Radio reported earlier this week. The union has filed six labor charges against SBS, citing the firing of eight employees in “retaliation” for their union activities, while allegedly threatening to terminate six additional workers, according to documents filed with the National Labor Relations Board, as reported by the Los Angeles Daily News.
“These companies are pushing the envelope too far, and they are keeping the wages and working conditions too low,” said Felix Castillo, a former on-air talent known as DJ Mr. Boro at “La Raza 97.9” KLAX and “Mega 96.3” KXOL. “We are so committed to our listeners and our craft that we are willing to sleep in our cars to make ends meet and work double shifts without getting compensation.” The SBS staff has claimed they were paid less than minimum wage, denied overtime, meal breaks and reimbursements, prompting them to vote for union membership.
SBS, which owns the two stations, became the first Spanish-language radio network in the nation to unionize after becoming a SAG-AFTRA operation in August 2016. The company has since failed to negotiate a fair contract with the union, and refuses to engage in good faith bargaining over economics, including wages, SAG-AFTRA charges.
SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris told the gathering that it had delivered a letter to Julie Su, the Labor Commissioner of California, calling upon her department to “vigorously investigate the rampant violations of California wage and hour laws at SBS,” which are also being reviewed by the National Labor Relations Board. She added, “I have a message for SBS: We are not going away.”
Castillo added, “I was terminated without any explanation or warning. I believe I was terminated in direct retaliation for participation in the union organizing and frequent presence at the negotiating table. It’s clear to me that our terminations were meant as bullying tactics.”