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The Writers Guild of America East is putting some additional pressure on MSNBC to expedite contract negotiations.
More than 400 members of the union — including star members Tina Fey, Lilly Wachowski and David Simon — are calling on the cable news brand to agree “to a fair contract that includes the pay and protections [MSNBC union members] deserve” in a petition released on Wednesday. The WGA East’s bargaining unit at MSNBC, a group of more than 300 writers, producers, fact-checkers and others, has been negotiating with MSNBC and NBCUniversal management for over a year on their first contract since the union’s certification via a National Labor Relations Board election in August 2021.
“We support our fellow Guild-represented writers and producers at MSNBC who have been fighting for over a year to win a reasonable first contract,” the petition states. “They are fully dedicated to the important work they do for NBCU and they deserve to be paid – and treated – fairly”
Several of the signatories of Wednesday’s petition write and/or produce on titles like Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for NBCUniversal.
The Hollywood Reporter has contacted MSNBC for comment.
From the perspective of the WGA East, the sticking points in negotiations include allegedly slow scheduling and lack of headway on major contract priorities. In a statement to THR, WGA East executive director Lowell Peterson says that while negotiations have been ongoing, “it has been difficult to get the Company to agree to negotiating dates.” Moreover, Peterson adds, while the union has made progress on some key issues, it has not “on some of the most essential proposals, such as protections against overwork (long days, long weeks, unpaid standby duty), pay transparency and fairness (reasonable pay scales, being paid appropriately when performing higher-level duties, etc.), and a reasonable and objective approach to continuing to work remotely.”
MSNBC workers went public with their organizing effort in June 2021, when they stated that they wanted to address diversity in the newsroom, pay, benefits and career development opportunities. Earlier this year, the union bristled at layoffs that impacted the brand, allegedly consisting of 30 WGA East members, including one member of the union’s bargaining committee. Late last month, the union claimed that the company posted 28 job openings “often on the same shows or in the same jobs classifications, or both” as laid-off workers and demanded the workers be reinstated.
“The layoffs highlight our need for a fair union contract that locks in meaningful severance and other protections, and that addresses the inevitable impact on workload,” the WGA East said in their statement at the time.
Beyond MSNBC, the WGA East also represents digital media, broadcast and cable journalists at Vox Media, VICE, CBS News and Hearst Magazines, among other outlets.
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