WGA East to NBCU's Steve Burke: Let Us Count Union Votes

According to the union, NBCUniversal is impeding the vote count for a representation election at a company-owned production entity, Peacock Productions.

Writers from more than 20 NBC and USA shows have written to NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke, urging him to drop an appeal of a recent representation election at NBCU-owned Peacock Productions, the WGA East said Monday. Peacock produces nonfiction programming for basic cable networks such as shows like Caught on Camera or Skywire Live with Nik Wallenda. The WGA East has been actively organizing writer-producers in this part of the television industry for several years. 

The letter was signed by writers from Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, 30 Rock, Community, Law & Order, Law & Order Special Victims Unit, Law & Order Criminal Intent, Parks and Recreation, Smash, Do No Harm, 1600 Penn, Royal Pains, Passions, The Cosby Show, Homicide: Life on the Streets, The Tonight Show, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Philanthropist, The West Wing, New Year’s Eve with Carson Daly, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and Monk.

“We are mystified by NBCU’s refusal to honor the results of the NLRB election,” said WGAE Executive Director Lowell Peterson.  “The company employs a lot of Guild members and, as the letter we delivered to the CEO makes clear, those members don’t think their colleagues should have fewer rights and lesser conditions.”

NBCUniversal employees at Peacock have been working to organize a union for more than a year, but the union said “their efforts have been stalled by NBCU's legal maneuvering to prevent the writer-producers from exercising their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.”

According to the union, NBCU attorneys assert that fully half the employees in the proposed bargaining unit at Peacock are supervisors who are not entitled to protection under the NLRA. After a hearing, says the union, the NLRB Regional Director disagreed and directed a secret-ballot election, which took place in June. Now NBCU has successfully had those ballots impounded, pending an appeal.

The WGAE asks that the company drop its appeal in order to allow the ballots to be counted and, if a majority has voted in favor of union representation, commence negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement.

NBC did not respond to a request for comment. UPDATE: NBCU subsequently told THR in a statement: “Prior to the June 14 vote, we asked the NLRB to review the Regional Director’s decision regarding the supervisory status of Peacock’s freelance producers.  The NLRB granted us a review.  As is part of the normal process, the votes were impounded by the NLRB until a decision is made.  We are still waiting for the NLRB to render their decision, which is why no votes have been counted.  We believe that Peacock’s producers hold meaningful supervisory authority, which according to Federal Labor Law, excludes them from voting.  The Board decided to review the Regional Director’s decision and is currently in the process of doing so.”

The WGAE has been actively organizing writer-producers in nonfiction television since 2009. Nonfiction television has boomed in recent years by creating low-cost, highly profitable programming that relies on low wages, smaller crews and longer work schedules by freelance employees with no health care. According to the union, over a thousand creative professionals work in this field in the New York area.

The letter was signed by Doug Abeles, SNL; Jill Abbinanti, Law & Order: SVU; Chris Albers, Late Night with Conan O’Brien; Benjamin Apple, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon; Jon Robin Baitz, The West Wing; Casey Barrett, New Years Eve with Carson Daly; Bridget Bedard, 1600 Penn; Andrew Bergman, various; Patrick Borelli, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon; Peter Blauner, Law & Order: SVU; Kyle Bradstreet, The Philanthropist; Tom Ceraulo, 30 Rock; Rob Cohen, Law & Order: SVU; Luke Cunningham, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon; Brian De Castro, NBC Promotions;Janine DiTullio, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon;Michael Drucker, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon; Jess Dweck,Late Night with Jimmy Fallon; Tom Fontana, Homicide: Life on the Street; Kevin Fox, Law & Order: SVU; Lewis Friedman, various; Gina Gionfriddo, Law & Order; David Handelman, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip; James Hart, A Friggin’ Christmas Miracle; James V. Hart, various; John Haskell, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon; Philip Johnston, various; Rolin Jones, Smash; Larry Kaplow,Law & Order: SVU; Rob Klein, SNL; Chris Kula, Community ; N. Gail Lawrence, Passions; Warren Leight, Law & Order: SVU; John Markus, The Cosby Show; Julie Martin, Law & Order: SVU; Sam Means, 30 Rock; Coleen McGuiness, 30 Rock; Arthur Meyer, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon; Christine Nangle, SNL; Marygrace O’Shea, Law & Order: CI; Nina Pedrad, 30 Rock; Michael Rauch, Royal Pains; Jackie Reingold, Smash; Albertina Rizzo, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon; John P. Roche, Law & Order: SVU; Kate Rorick, Law & Order: CI; David Rosen, various; Tom Scharpling, Monk; Josh Silberman, 30 Rock; Diana Son, Law & Order: CI; Brian Stack, The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien; Jen Statsky, Parks and Recreation; Bryan Tucker,SNL; Jessica Vale, NBC Promotions; Tracey Wigfield, 30 Rock; Tracey Wilson, Do No Harm; andJames Yoshimura, Homicide: Life on the Street.

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