By Herta Suarez
The amazing success of the NLRB election, in which Telemundo performers voted to be represented by SAG-AFTRA, is one of the union’s most impressive achievements since merger — and it took place right here in the Miami Local. With 81 percent of those who voted casting their ballots to be represented by SAG-AFTRA, we have entered for the first time into the world of Spanish-language television at the scale of a major television network.
This accomplishment was the result of the amazing teamwork of SAG-AFTRA staff from the Organizing Department, other national staff and departments, and our local staff. But more importantly, this was the work of Telemundo performers, who were active leaders in the campaign, putting their careers on the line to take a stand and make a change now and for the future on behalf of all performers who work in Spanish-language television. Now we move this process to the next step: negotiating the first collective bargaining agreement to cover performers in scripted programs produced by Telemundo in the United States, including Puerto Rico. Negotiations are in progress.
We will continue with our commitment to expand the job opportunities for SAG-AFTRA members in Florida, Alabama and Puerto Rico. As previously reported, the Miami Local is part of the national initiative known as CORI, the Commercials Organizing and Recapture Initiative. A Local Commercials Code has been developed for commercial work produced and used within the Miami Local (Florida, Alabama and Puerto Rico). We will be approaching those who produce non-union commercials locally to invite them to produce their projects under the special terms of our new Local Code. Please share with Jessica at email@example.com, Leslie at firstname.lastname@example.org or me at email@example.com the names of those you know who produce non-union local commercials so we can reach out to them during this campaign. The Local Commercials Code has been approved by the Local Board but requires National Board review and approval. The Telemundo election opened the door for SAG-AFTRA to negotiate a contract that will also bring new SAG-AFTRA-covered jobs for members who work in Spanish language.
We have started regular orientations in the office for new members and PUPS (pre-union-performers). Please encourage performers who are eligible to join SAG-AFTRA and ask any performer interested in learning more about SAG-AFTRA to attend these orientations by contacting Susana at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the legislative front, given the lack of support for production incentives in the Florida State Legislature, we have turned our efforts to working at the county and city level to generate interest in developing local incentives to attract production to their respective areas of jurisdiction. We are coordinating with the Miami-Dade Office of Film & Entertainment and it looks like we have the necessary support to achieve production incentives for Miami-Dade. We’ll continue tracking any developments related to the incentives currently in place in Alabama and Puerto Rico to determine any necessary action.
After dedicating many years of their careers to SAG-AFTRA, Miami Local staff member Karen Weiss and Miami-based Carlina Rodriguez retired in 2016. Karen was the Miami Local office manager and retired last July after 19 years with SAG-AFTRA. In September, Spanish-Language Media Director, Industry Relations, Carlina Rodriguez also retired after 14 years of service. We miss them both on a professional and personal basis and wish them a long and happy retirement.
Miami Local staff at Karen Weiss’ retirement party.
From left, South Region Director, Contracts and Operations, Leslie Krensky; Assistant National Executive Director Mathis Dunn; Industry Relations, Spanish Language Media Director, Carlina Rodriguez; and Miami Local Executive Director Herta Suarez celebrate Rodriguez’s retirement with the Miami Local staff.