WGA East Files Charges Against NBC Universal For Union-Busting
NEW YORK, NY (APRIL 15, 2020) – The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) today filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) with the National Labor Relations Board that charges NBCUniversal with union-busting at Peacock Productions, the company’s in-house nonfiction production company, and demanding NBC Universal continue to apply the Guild’s collective bargaining agreement to the company’s “new” nonfiction production company.
Peacock Productions is, or was, the part of NBC News’ operations that created nonfiction television series for NBC and other networks. A number of years ago, the writer-producers at Peacock unionized with the Writers Guild of America, East. Management refused to honor the employees’ decision and spent years fighting against it at the National Labor Relations Board. Ultimately the NLRB ordered the company to recognize the WGAE as the employees’ collective bargaining representative, and negotiations ensued. In January 2019, the employees ratified their first WGAE collective bargaining agreement, which included many gains unique in the nonfiction television world like portable health care.
In January 2020 Peacock notified the WGAE that it would no longer employ writer-producers at Peacock. Instead, the company said it would continue to produce nonfiction programs at another part of the NBC News operation, which apparently will have the name “NBC News Studios”.
The WGAE asked for clarification and details. Because the company refused to provide all of the information, last month the union had to file a ULP with the NLRB – after which the company admitted that a number of former “Peacock” employees would now work at “NBC News Studios” producing nonfiction programs. In fact, the Guild learned that key leadership from “Peacock” will remain at the helm of “NBC News Studios,” in addition to many Peacock writer-producers.
Thus, NBC News is continuing the work of Peacock Productions under a different banner, using Peacock Productions employees. There is one key difference: The company is refusing to apply the WGAE collective bargaining agreement to any of those employees.
Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East, said, “This cynical maneuver is intended to bust the union, to continue the company’s years-long effort to reject its employees’ decision to be part of the WGAE and to bargaining collectively on critical workplace issues. Freelance employees creating nonfiction programs must be covered by the WGAE collective bargaining agreement, which was the product of years of struggle by freelance writer-producers and which protects their interests and reflects real gains in employment terms and conditions.”
In response to what the Guild learned from last month’s ULP, the WGAE today filed another ULP against NBC at the NLRB. As that charge states, the Guild contract must be applied to the freelance producers and associate producers who are hired, and who will be hired in the future, to craft nonfiction programs at “NBC News Studios” (or whatever new label the company might use to cover nonfiction television production). That’s what the writer-producers struggled for so many years to achieve, and that’s what the law requires.
The WGA East has launched https://peacockunion.tv/ to provide further updates on this campaign.
ABOUT WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA, EAST
The Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO (WGAE) is a labor union representing writers in film, television, news and new media. 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 wgaeast.org.