WGAW Reps: Comcast Wants to Destroy Unions

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"What Comcast wants is to come in and freeload off what others have built," board members Chip Johannessen and Patric Verrone say.


NEW YORK -- Writers Guild of America, West board members Chip Johannessen and Patric Verrone lashed out against new NBCUniversal owner Comcast over the weekend, suggesting the cable giant wants to destroy unions instead of working with them.

They made their comments after the writers of the Comcast Entertainment Group, which housed such networks as E! and Style before they became part of NBCUniversal, late last year voted and petitioned Comcast to accept representation by the WGA. Comcast said it would recognize the union affiliation after writers go through a process with the National Labor Relations Board.

"Despite what Comcast promised when it was under the microscope of federal merger hearings, it is now clear that they're not interested in maintaining Hollywood's union environment," they said on the writers guild's Web site. "What they're interested in is the same kind of foot-dragging, strong-arm tactics and deceit they've deployed against every effort to unionize elsewhere."

They added that Comcast's "approach is to destroy the unions that, as much as the companies, make this industry work. What Comcast wants is to come in and freeload off what others have built. What it wants is to be able to take advantage of the talent pool without contributing."

By ensuring fair compensation and portable benefits, the "guild-based ecosystem works to everyone's advantage, including the companies," they argued. "It makes our industry possible."

Verrone and Johannessen concluded by saying: "As WGAW members we are committed to supporting and welcoming the Comcast writers who are fighting for WGA representation. As WGAW board members, it is our obligation to rally our fellow writers to join in that support."

NBCUniversal and Comcast representatives had no comment.