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Chicago promotions might hurt union effort

Two top anchors at Chicago Telemundo Communications Group Inc. station WSNS(TV) have been given plum assignments from their network in a development that could undercut efforts to unionize the on-air staff there.

Anchors Norma Garcia and Victor Javier Solano have been among the most outspoken station staffers in their support of American Federation of Television and Radio Artists efforts to represent the eight eligible employees who joined the NBC station group when Telemundo was purchased last year.

But Garcia will now be the Houston-based national correspondent for the Telemundo group, while Solano will anchor at WNJU(TV) Newark, N.J., part of the No. 1 New York DMA.

No one questioned that the moves are advancements for both, but AFTRA suggested that the timing was suspicious, coming right after the election agreement and before the April 2 vote on whether AFTRA will represent the WSNS employees.

Attorney Lyle Rowen, who has been active in the effort to unionize WSNS, called it "a classic union-avoidance technique and cuts the head off our biggest union support. This hurts our internal organizing, but we're still confident we're going to win. And both the individuals are happy with the new jobs."

Telemundo spokeswoman Diana Souza said there was no connection between the timing of the new jobs and the election, and the assignments were to follow February sweeps.

"We did not want to pull the anchors off during the sweeps," she added. "The discussions have been going on for some time."