People/Biz

WGA East alleges union-busting, files new complaint against NBCU

The Writers Guild of America East filed another unfair labor practice complaint against NBCUniversal Wednesday (April 15) for alleged union busting, reigniting a long standing clash between the two organizations. WGA ...
April 15, 2020

The Writers Guild of America East filed another unfair labor practice complaint against NBCUniversal Wednesday (April 15) for alleged union busting, reigniting a long standing clash between the two organizations.

WGA East claims NBC News is “refusing” to apply the collective bargaining agreement won by Peacock Productions producers to those now employed under NBC News Studios, the documentary-focused production shingle launched after NBC News pulled the plug on Peacock Productions in January.

A month later, in February, WGA East filed a ULP with the National Labor Relations Board against the media giant.

“In response to what the guild learned from last month’s ULP, the WGAE today filed another ULP against NBC at the NLRB,” WGA East’s release states. “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).”

In a statement to Realscreen, an NBC News spokesperson said: “We have not seen the filing yet, but based on what’s in press reports, we strongly refute what’s being alleged. We have, in writing, requested to meet several times with the WGA East, and they have not responded. We continue to welcome the opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with them.”

The agreement between Peacock Productions employees and NBCUniversal was ratified in January 2019 after years of negotiations. It covered 40 writer-producers and included what WGA East called a “landmark” agreement to establish a “portable, industry-wide nonfiction television healthcare plan.”

Peacock Productions workers officially voted to unionize with WGA East in September 2016. Those workers initially voted in June 2013, but NBCUniversal and Peacock filed an appeal, arguing that they did not have the right to unionize. The National Labor Relations Board impounded the ballots until August when the board ruled that the 100 freelance producers had the right to unionize under federal law.

WGA East claims that in in January 2020, Peacock Productions notified the union that it would “no longer employ writer-producers at Peacock.”

After filing its first ULP regarding the matter in February, WGA East claims NBCUniversal stated “a number of former ‘Peacock’ employees would now work at NBC News Studios producing nonfiction programs.” Furthermore, according to the release issued by WGA East over the matter, “the Guild learned that key leadership from ‘Peacock’ will remain at the helm of ‘NBC News Studios,’ in addition to many Peacock writer-producers.”

Lowell Peterson, executive director of the WGA East, said in a statement: “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.”

With files from Kevin Ritchie

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news editor at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joined the RS team in 2015 with experience in journalism following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and with communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.

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