LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors stepped into the middle of a non-county labor dispute, voting to urge a broadcaster to reinstate fired employees with back pay and offer on-air radio talent a living wage.
Supervisors Hilda Solis and Janice Hahn co-authored the motion Tuesday, Oct. 11, directed at Spanish Broadcasting System.
SBS stands accused of bad faith bargaining with employees at KXOL-FM (96.3), known as MEGA, and KLAX-FM (97.9), known as La Raza, where a majority of on-air talent voted in August 2016 to join the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
They are the first Spanish-language radio stations in Los Angeles to unionize. Contract negotiations have been going on for more than a year.
“Workers in Los Angeles should have the ability to choose whether they want union representation, free of fear and intimidation,” Solis and Hahn stated in their motion. “Los Angeles is the number one Spanish language radio market in the United States. MEGA and La Raza are among the top-rated Spanish language radio stations in Los Angeles.”
In a statement reported last month by Deadline.com, SBS denied the claims and countered that SAG-AFTRA was trying to intimidate the company into accepting unfair contract demands.
“The recent allegations trumpeted by the union against our company are not only totally false and malicious, they are, in fact, an insult to the talented and professional on-air personnel the union claims to represent,” SBS chairman Raul Alarcon said in a September statement.
“Not only are the recent claims not true in the case of our Los Angeles personnel, they are untrue as evidenced by hundreds of employees who have worked at SBS during nearly 35 years of operations at dozens of broadcasting facilities throughout the country.”
Alarcon told Deadline.com that SBS is “one of the last remaining broadcasting entities owned, operated and controlled by Hispanics and a source of pride for millions of listeners as well as the artists and advertisers it has served since 1983.”
Roughly a week after that statement, the National Labor Relations Board found merit in the allegations that the media company had engaged in unfair labor practices, including terminating eight employees in retaliation for organizing efforts and bad faith bargaining.
The NLRB is seeking an order requiring the fired employees to be reinstated with back pay plus interest and related damages. A trial date has been set for Dec. 11, according to SAG-AFTRA.
SAG-AFTRA’s Los Angeles Local Executive Director Ilyanne Morden Kichaven asked for the county board’s support.
“It’s incumbent upon our city leaders to stand for workers’ rights and their (fair) treatment, just like you have done time and time again,” Kichaven said. “On behalf of the 160,000 national members of SAG-AFTRA, with 80,000 of them residing in Los Angeles County, I implore you to stand with workers today.”
The board’s vote, made without comment, was 4-0. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas was not present at the meeting, though SAG-AFTRA said in a press release about the NLRB complaint that it had Ridley-Thomas’ support.
Kuehl is a SAG-AFTRA member.