NBC News Employees Quietly Organize Anti-Union Effort

NBC News Studios at Rockefeller Plaza - Getty 1- H 2019
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On top of a "No NBC NewsGuild" Instagram account and a bare-bones website, employees have posted flyers around the network's office in Manhattan: "a massive, college dorm-esque battle of the posters."

On Wednesday, NBC News Digital employees formally voted on whether they want to form a union with the NewsGuild of New York, the results of which won't be available until Dec. 13.

But while the NBC Digital NewsGuild announced on Oct. 30 that "approximately 75% of the workplace signed on to the effort" with union authorization cards, a smaller group of employees has been quietly campaigning against the union effort.

Pro-union posters around the office in Manhattan have been met with anti-union posters put up by the group, which runs an Instagram account called No NBC NewsGuild and a bare-bones website that lays out a series of "NBC News Guild Concerns." One employee described the dueling promotional campaign as "a massive, college dorm-esque battle of the posters."

"We are also the reporters, editors, designers, video journalists, animators, social media strategists, and editorial staff of NBC News Digital, not management," the group, which did not respond to a request for comment, says on the site.

The effort appears small. Only 15 people follow the Instagram account, many of them Today show employees, one source pointed out to The Hollywood Reporter. (The union would include staffers from nbcnews.com, today.com, StayTuned, Left Field, msnbc.com and NBC News Now.)

NBC News confirmed that company management has nothing to do with the self-organized anti-union effort. A spokesperson said that company leadership was not made aware or involved in the creation or management of the accounts.

Asked about the anti-union effort, the NBC Digital NewsGuild said in a statement to THR: "We do not know who started this account, but we do know that fear and misinformation about our rights keep us divided. After our vote count on Dec. 13, we look forward to coming together as one united staff to protect and look out for one another."

Upon announcing the union drive, the NBC Digital NewsGuild said that "a company with such incredible resources can and should do more to close gender and race wage gaps, address chronic understaffing, meaningfully prioritize diversity, promote transparency, and offer job protections. Management has indicated they are committed to addressing some of these issues — ending nine-hour working shifts, adjusting weekend staffing, increasing standard vacation time, and implementing select pay raises. While we strongly welcome any steps forward, we want to cement these positive benefits into an enforceable contract."

On their website, the anti-union group says of the prospect of joining a union: "Nothing is promised. Everything is up for negotiation. Everything. There are no guarantees. ... Unionizing cannot promise that any of your current benefits will stay the same."

NBC has refused to voluntarily recognize the the union. If the Wednesday vote were to be successful, "a legally protected period called 'status quo' begins," and negotiations start between the union and company management, informed by the results of an employee "bargaining survey."

One such anti-union sign that has been posted around the 30 Rock newsroom says: "Dues Are For The Gym. Vote No." At the bottom of the flyer, it reads: "And thanks for allowing those of us who are opposed to unionizing to have a voice by not being petty and removing this, again."