Press Room

Breaking news, press releases and statements from the Writers Guild of America, East

Thursday February 20, 2014

10,000 Petitions To Be Delivered To MSNBC Hosts Urging Them to ‘Lean Forward’ In Support Of Colleagues Asking Comcast/NBCU For Workplace Rights

Comcast-owned NBC Refuses to Allow Television Professionals to Unionize 

Writers Guild of America East: Comcast is cashing in on progressive MSBNC hosts while trampling on the rights of Peacock employees—they can’t have it both ways 

New York, NY – Workers at Comcast / NBCU owned Peacock Productions will deliver more than 10,000 petition signatures to MSNBC’s primetime hosts today, urging them to speak out against the company’s anti-worker tactics. 

They’ll ask for the five MSNBC anchors–Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, Al Sharpton, Ed Schultz and Chris Hayes–to be paged to come downstairs and personally receive the letter, which was backed by the AFL-CIO and hosted by MoveOn, and now boasts thousands of supporters.

“MSNBC’s anchors are fearless advocates for our nation’s working-class families—night after night, they stand up to corporate greed, corruption, and wrongdoing. It is essential that they hear what people employed by the same corporation have to say about their own workplace struggles” said Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE). 

The writer-producers at Peacock Productions, a subsidiary of Comcast/NBCU, have been trying to form a union for a more than a year with the (WGAE). But the corporation’s lawyers have stalled the process, and management refuses to honor the employees’ votes.

The writer-producers say Peacock’s parent company, Comcast/NBCUniversal, is trying to have it both ways–refusing to recognize their right to organize for basic protections, including minimum compensation rates, affordable health benefits, and paid time off, while at the same time, cashing in on MSNBC’s progressive programming. 

“We present these petitions today to engage the MSNBC hosts in a real dialogue with the writer-producers at Peacock.  But to be clear, our ultimate target is management at NBCU/Comcast.  The company can’t have it both ways – presenting the strong, progressive voices of the MSNBC hosts while at the same time depriving the Peacock employees of their own voices on the job,” continued Peterson.

In 2012, the network’s writer-producers sought the help of WGAE. In October of that year, the union filed for an NLRB election. Comcast / NBCU lawyers claimed that half of the hard-working television professionals deserved no protection at all under the National Labor Relations Act and had no right to representation— a claim the NLRB rejected.

In June 2013 a secret ballot election was held. But because of even more legal maneuvering by the company’s attorneys, those ballots are still sitting in a box, uncounted – fully a year and a half after the process began. 

WGAE says Comcast / NBCU’s flagrant abuse of the law will only get worse if it’s allowed to take over Time Warner Cable.

“Comcast / NBC has refused to recognize its employees’ right to organize for nearly two years. That is the power and danger of media conglomerates that have pockets so deep they can afford to stall and evade a basic responsibility owed to their own employees – the responsibility to honor  the results of a secret ballot vote for representation,” said Peterson. “We urge the FCC to take action against this merger. To give a giant corporation like Comcast/NBCUniversal even more clout in the marketplace – and in the workplace – is simply wrong.”  

ABOUT WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA, EAST The Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO (WGAE) is a labor union representing writers in motion pictures, television, cable, digital media, and broadcast news. The Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members; conducts programs, seminars, and events on issues of interest to writers; and presents writers’ views to various bodies of government. For more information on the Writers-Guild of America, East, visit


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