Miami, FL, August 11, 2005 - On Friday, July 29, on and off-air employees of Miami's America TeVe Channel 41 filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) seeking to be represented by the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). On Wednesday, August 3, the employer was informed of the filing and on Friday, August 5, the employer fired one of the key leaders of the organizing effort. In addition, work schedules have been changed and hours reduced for some employees since the employer received notice of the petition filing. On Wednesday, August 10, a second union supporter was also terminated by the station in violation of federal labor law.
AFTRA representation was sought at America TeVe Channel 41 to combat a culture that includes routine violations of employee rights by management, such as the failure to provide breaks for rest and meals, and the total absence of basic benefits like paid vacation and health insurance. The employees seeking representation include performers in entertainment programming, reporters and anchors in news programming, and off-air producers and technical staff, such as writers, editors, and photographers.
According to employees, the management of America TeVe Channel 41 has subjected them to unfair conditions for years and used illegal intimidation tactics - such as the constant threat of dismissal - to stifle collective action and dissent.
Herta Suarez, AFTRA's Executive Director in Miami, noted, "Federal labor law protects the right of employees to select a union of their choosing to represent them, and prohibits coercion, intimidation, or interference from management. Since being informed of the upcoming secret ballot election to be conducted by the NLRB, however, the management has responded with actions that clearly appear to disregard the law surrounding the rights of employees to seek union representation. The employees of America TeVe are seeking respect, just treatment, and fair employment practices and benefits, and AFTRA is here to work with them in that struggle. The employees of America TeVe want their viewers, advertisers, and the Miami Hispanic community to be informed of exactly what is taking place inside America TeVe."
One of the AFTRA supporters inside the shop stated, "We are counting on the support of the Miami Hispanic community to let the management of America TeVe know that they must stop their unfair employment practices, and provide industry-standard terms and conditions and quality jobs to their employees by negotiating a contract expeditiously with AFTRA."
AFTRA's Assistant National Executive Director Rebecca Rhine added, "AFTRA's commitment to Spanish-language workers in the media industry is not limited to national companies like Telemundo and Univision. We will go where employees are trying to eliminate the double standard that seems to permeate this growing industry. We are in this for the long-haul."
An NLRB unit determination hearing is scheduled for Monday, August 15. No date has yet been set for the actual certification election.
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists - affiliated with the AFL-CIO - is a diverse national union representing over 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters, and recording artists in 32 Locals throughout the country. AFTRA members work as actors, broadcast journalists, dancers, singers, announcers, hosts, comedians, and disc jockeys in all aspects of the media industries including television and radio, sound recordings, commercials, non-broadcast/industrials, interactive games, and the Internet. For more information, visit AFTRA online at www.aftra.com