On Wednesday morning, a letter was delivered to NBC management explaining the reason for the strike. Shortly after the action was announced internally, guild-covered NBC and MSNBC staffers began changing their status on an internal messaging system to “ready to run.”
Union members and supporters plan to protest in front of the company’s 30 Rock office building in Manhattan on Thursday morning.
The NBC Guild — made up of digital reporters, editors, designers, video journalists, animators and social media strategists — has been engaged in contract negotiations with the company’s management since its inception in 2019.
Tate James, a video editor for NBC News and president of the unit, said the decision to leave stemmed from a growing belief that NBC management is excluding the union from key employee issues, such as the process of negotiating layoffs and the terms of the termination agreements. NBC management failed to take proper steps before last month’s layoffs, the union has sued.
“There was a general vibe of, If we’re not walking out because of illegal layoffs, what are we doing here?” said James. “NBC is not offering us anything of value in the negotiations after years of trying. We need to see some management change, and this may be the thing that moves them.
NBC executives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The union has filed six separate unfair labor practices charges with the NLRB, but James said the process could take several years to resolve a complaint. “People are tired of waiting two years for someone to tell us something is illegal that we already knew was illegal,” he said.
About 30 employees who fell under an MSNBC-specific union were also laid off last month as part of the same round of cost-cutting that affected NBC Guild staffers.
New York Times employees walk out en masse; for the first time in decades
The MSNBC Union, which is represented by the Writers Guild of America, East, said it was “stunned and outraged”. by the layoffs, which mirrored cutbacks at other companies in the industry, including The Washington Post, Vox Media and CNN.
In December, for the first time in decades, a large group of New York Times employees took part in a work stoppage, and many protested outside the paper’s headquarters, expressing frustration with the company’s management over its handling of various employment issues.
While James said consumers of NBC’s digital platforms might not notice Thursday’s absence, the company certainly will.
“Our question is very simple: it is to follow the law and respect your employees,” he said. “Many on our editorial board wonder, ‘How are we supposed to pretend to hold power to account when our employers repeatedly violate federal labor laws?’