Telemundo Asked Them Not To Unionize, But Its Actors Just Voted To Do So

Late last year, Telemundo was riding high on a wave of success. As the result of a push for original programming, the Comcast-NBC Universal-owned network was now competing, and in some cases, beating its competition, Univision, in ratings. Many of the performers who worked for Telemundo, however, were not seeing the fruits of that success. For roughly three years, Telemundo actors have sought compensation for overtime, residual payments and health insurance — and now they’ve taken steps to secure.

In a historic victory, Telemundo performers, a majority of which are Spanish-language talent, voted 91 to 21 in favor of joining the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). Telemundo currently employs about 500 performers on the more than 100 telenovela episodes it produces each year, mostly in Miami, according to Deadline.

Many of the actors and entertainers who work on major TV shows, films, and commercials are members of the SAG-AFTRA union, which helps establish their base pay, gives them access to health insurance and other benefits. Telemundo did not work with SAG-AFTRA, meaning its performers working on U.S.-based telenovelas were paid less and were not eligible for the protections and benefits provided by the union.

Actress Katie Barberi, a longtime member of SAG-AFTRA, voted to unionize because her work with Telemundo was not protected. She calls the vote to unionize a miracle.

“I have always wanted to [unionize],” said Barberi, who’s been in about 20 telenovelas. She said it’s “for the benefit of everyone. Even for the benefit of those that aren’t so sure if it’s a good idea.”

Barberi says that she understands how much a union contract benefits an actor because she’s worked on both sides of the spectrum, with her membership with SAG-AFTRA and without. Her job as an actress has taken her to work in various countries including Mexico and Colombia, and in Miami, which is where Telemundo productions are primarily located.

She says the most important exclusion that actors face by not having a union contract is not being paid residuals for syndicated programming. Telemundo sells their telenovela productions to 50 and 80 countries, and yet they never are compensated for any of this revenue.

This is a very unusual because actors on major TV shows are paid royalties for their work. However, Telemundo performers never see a dime from these worldwide sales.

Barberi said the small margin of those that voted against unionizing were plagued with fear and didn’t want to betray their employer.

Earlier this year, Telemundo president Luis Silberwasser released a video where he asked his employees to vote against unionizing.

Telemundo Via Latino Rebels

In the video, Silberwasser said that Telemundo was giving many people opportunities, employing “Spanish-speaking actors and actresses in Miami, who otherwise would’ve never seen their dreams come true.” He continued by saying that “Telemundo is a family that works together, for better or worse,” and that they could “achieve better things working together, directly, without the union.”

Many Telemundo performers believed Silberwasser’s video was a form of indirect intimidation and worried about retaliation if they unionized.

“There was big fear among our coworkers,” Barberi tells mitú. “even though we tried to express throughout the campaign that every vote would be secret.” She said that even though the voting process is done thoroughly and without names, some people didn’t believe them. Silberwasser’s words did not persuade enough voters in his favor.

Another actor who voted to unionize is Mexican actor Pablo Azar. He told mitú he is thrilled over the outcome.

“This was a long process,” Azar tells mitú. “Me and my fellow actors were afraid that this would never happen.”

The 34-year-old, who can be seen in telenovelas such as “Bella Calamidades” and “El Talisman,” has sold original paintings and worked as an Uber driver to make ends meet.

Azar says they faced a lot of obstacles against a unionization, including the working laws in Miami, so it was very encouraging to have the support of A-List actors. The campaign had the support from current SAF-AFTRA members Alec Baldwin, Rosario Dawson, Susan Sarandon, Andy Garcia, Chris Rock, Kate del Castillo, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jaime Camil, Rita Moreno, Scarlett Johansson, Zoe Saldana and Bryan Cranston.

On social media, people showed their support for Telemundo actors with the hashtag #SagAftraUnidos.

In a press release, actor Luis Guzman said he was “very proud of all those who took a step forward towards equality and the fundamental right of being represented by SAG-AFTRA,” and added “In unity y siempre p’alante mi gente!”

SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said this vote sends a “powerful message of hope and solidarity at a critical moment in the history of our union and of the creative community.”

“Regardless of the language we speak, we can all unite to improve conditions for performers working professionally in our industry,” Carteris said. “Telemundo performers have laid a foundation that will improve lives for generations to come.”

A representative for Telemundo released the following statement regarding the unionization of their employees, saying that while the network “is disappointed with this result, we remain committed to all of our employees and will move forward with the negotiation process after the election results have been certified by the NLRB. We continue to be dedicated to making Telemundo a great place to work and to Telemundo’s long-term success.”

READ: This Is What You Feel When You Watch A Telenovela

Do you support Telemundo performers choice to unionize? Let us know how you feel by sharing this story and commenting below!

As The Impeachment Trial Heats Up, Trump’s Defenders Start To Crack Under Pressure

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As The Impeachment Trial Heats Up, Trump’s Defenders Start To Crack Under Pressure

@themoteige / Twitter

On Dec. 18, just before Christmas, a gift arrived at the House of Congress, two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. After what seemed like an eternity of “will Trump ever be impeached?” the moment some Americans have been calling for finally came to fruition. Yet, the moment of justice against Trump was quickly fogged when Republicans began to attempt to derail the proceedings. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it perfectly clear that articles of impeachment presented from the House chamber to the Senate chamber would be dismissed because no Republican would ever vote to impeach Trump. Then something magical happened. People started talking.

Almost a month after the House voted to impeach President Donald Trump, Rep. Nancy Pelosi finally sent the articles of impeachment to the Senate floor on Jan. 15 to begin the impeachment trial.

Credit: @speakerPelosi / Twitter

It took a while for Rep. Pelosi to get those articles of impeachment to the Senate, but many believed she had a strategic plan. After all, Sen. Mitch McConnell said he wouldn’t allow any witnesses or hear any new evidence. So, Rep. Pelosi must have had a plan, right? 

“In an impeachment trial, every Senator takes an oath to ‘do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws.’ Every Senator now faces a choice: to be loyal to the President or the Constitution,” Pelosi said in the letter, according to NPR. Rep. Pelosi also said she didn’t expect a fair trial. She proceeded, anyway. 

Democrats also announced they would have impeachment managers. Speaker of the House Pelosi named seven diverse lawmakers, including one Latina. 

Credit: @AlexNBCNews / Twitter

The seven lawmakers were picked because they have a legal background or expertise and also have served in Congress for decades. 

What’s remarkable about this diverse group of impeachment managers is that, as the New York Times notes, when President Bill Clinton had his impeachment trial in 1999, the impeachment managers back then were 13 white men. This time around, Trump is getting Rep. Adam B. Schiff, House Intelligence Committee chairman and lead manager, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, chair of the House Committee on House Administration, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Val Demings, member of the Intelligence and Judiciary committees, Rep. Jason Crow, member of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Sylvia Garcia, member of the House Judiciary Committee. 

On the same day that the trial got underway — and the managers were sworn in, along with Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the trial  — new revelations against Trump and others came roaring out of the TV.

Credit: @revsusanrussell / Twitter

If you’ve been keeping up with the impeachment process, you should know that Trump’s being impeached for asking Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden’s son for corruption. That’s what all of this is about, Trump asking for personal favors to get dirt against a politician who is seeking to run for office. Trump has said many times that request was not a favor. Now, at least one person involved in the Ukraine exchange of information is throwing Trump and many others under the bus. If you need a full refresher of the entire mess, click here

Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump’s lawyer Rudi Giuliani, told multiple journalists that Trump’s request to get dirt on Biden was known by all.

Credit: @cnnbrk / Twitter

“Because of my Ukrainian background and my contacts there, I became like Rudy’s assistant, his investigator,” he told the New Yorker. “I don’t do anything on my own. I don’t lobby people. I go get information. I set up a meeting. I make sure that the call went right. I make sure the translation is done right.”

“President Trump knew exactly what was going on,” he told Rachel Maddow, “He was aware of all my movements … I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president.”

Even people who once said they never met Parnas, including Rep. Devin Nunes, finally admitted to having known Parnas.

Credit: @jennyrachelpal / Twitter

Just last month, Rep. Nunes said he wasn’t sure who Parnas was and added that he would never speak to random people. However, like many people connected to the scandal, Nunes has now admitted that he has talked to Parnas. Rep. Nunes went on Fox News to say that he did look back at his records and realize he had talked with him. 

“I didn’t remember the name. But I did remember going back, looking at where I was at the time. Because you know you can do that now,” he said, according to CNN. “You actually know where you physically are. Checked it with my records, and it was very clear. I remember that call, which was very odd, random. Talking about random things. And I said, ‘Great, you know, just talk to my staff’ and boom, boom, boom. Which is normal, standard operating procedure.”

Seems like the impeachment trial is just heating up and more information is casting doubt on Trump and his most ardent defenders.

READ: Kellyanne Conway Is Convinced That Americans Think the Impeachment Process is a Sham

Florida Republicans Just Introduced Four Anti-LGBTQ Bills On The Last Day Possible And People Are Asking Why Now?

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Florida Republicans Just Introduced Four Anti-LGBTQ Bills On The Last Day Possible And People Are Asking Why Now?

Ben Wassenhatch / Flickr

Seven Republican lawmakers in Florida filed four anti-LGBTQ bills hours before the deadline for the upcoming legislative session this week. The bills undo many of the protections that exist for LGBTQ Florida residents. The four bills would repeal county and municipal ordinances for LGBTQ workers, legalize gay conversion therapy, and ban transgender healthcare for children, according to NBC News. 

The homophobic and transphobic legislation was introduced by representatives Anthony Sabatini, Bob Rommel, Michael Grant, and Byron Donalds, along with Senators Joe Gruters and Keith Perry. Florida Rep. Shevrin Jones, who is a member of the LGBTQ community, and other advocates are now fighting against the bills’ passing. 

Advocates respond to the bill calling it “discrimination and hate.”

“Clearly they’ve decided that discrimination and hate are central to their election-year platform despite our state’s incredible diversity,” Jones said in a statement. “Just as I’ve done since I was elected in 2012, I will continue to fight any legislation that marginalizes or threatens any Floridian’s shot at a secure, safe, and bright quality of life.”

Jones also accused Florida Republicans of, “wasting tax dollars attacking Florida’s most vulnerable communities rather than prioritizing the issues that impact everyday people’s lives.” 

Equality Florida released a statement highlighting many of the consequences such a bill would have. 

“This is the most overtly anti-LGBTQ agenda from the Florida Legislature in recent memory,” Jon Harris Maurer, the group’s public policy director, said. “It runs the gamut from openly hostile legislation that would arrest and imprison doctors for providing medically necessary care, to legislation that would carelessly erase critical local LGBTQ protections.”

Senator Gruters defends the bill, claiming it “includes protections.”

“The bill certainly does not authorize an employer to discriminate against employees who are members of protected classes, whether protected by federal or state law or local ordinance,” Gruters told NBC News via email.  “While I do not believe the bill has any impact on local anti-discrimination ordinances, in an abundance of caution, I included language in the bill’s preamble to make clear that the preemption would not affect local anti-discrimination laws, and any court would interpret the preemption consistent with that preamble.” 

While Gruters claims it would include protections, Joe Saunders, senior political director at Equality Florida, claims that these so-called protections are merely a part of the bill’s preamble and would carry no weight should the bills become law. 

“We appreciate that Sen. Gruters put that in,” Saunders said. “It’s not policy; it’s not considered part of the bill.”

Democratic senator Lori Berman suggested the bill was nothing more than a political stunt to garner votes from homophobic and transphobic constituents. 

“I’m disappointed to see some of my colleagues proposing this regressive and discriminatory anti-LGBT agenda,” Berman wrote on Twitter. “What benefit to the public does this legislation actually serve, apart from tossing red meat to a political base in an election season?” 

Trans children are particularly vulnerable to the policies. 

“Transgender youth are some of the most at risk in our community,” Gina Duncan, Equality Florida’s director of transgender equality, told NBC News. “It is outrageous that conservative legislators would threaten their health and safety. Medical professionals, not politicians, should decide what medical care is in the best interest of a patient. Forcing a doctor to deny best practice medical care and deny support to transgender youth can be life-threatening.”

Making it illegal for doctors to provide necessary care to trans children certainly goes against the Hippocratic oath, but if you think something so dystopian can’t happen just look at how Republicans have slowly chipped away at abortion rights – another form of necessary care that can be life-saving. 

Just yesterday South Dakora Republican lawmakers introduced a bill that would also ban doctors from performing gender-affirming surgeries or treatments on children. Similar bills have been filed in Texas, Georgia, and Kentucky. 

According to the Associated Press, “The Endocrine Society, which is the leading professional organization for doctors who specialize in hormones, does not recommend gender-transition medical treatment before puberty for children who do not identify with their biological gender. For youths experiencing puberty and older adolescents, the Endocrine Society recommends that a team composed of expert medical professionals and mental health professionals manages treatment.”

Opponents of these anti-trans bills believe the laws interfere with the doctor-patient relationship and contradict the widely accepted practices of the medical community. 

“Sadly, the medical care of transgender youth has been sensationalized and politicized,” Jack Turban, a researcher at Harvard Medical School, told NBC News. “Gender-affirming medical care for transgender adolescents is endorsed by major medical organizations, including the Endocrine Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. It should go without saying, but providing standard medical care should not be a felony.”