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NY Times

MSNBC Staff Announce Union

The network is refusing to recognize the union, forcing an NLRB vote

Brian Young's picture
Jun 21, 2021

About 200 editorial workers at MSNBC have announced that they are organizing with the Writers Guild of America East (WGA-East). However, the long-time liberal news station has announced that they will not recognize the union via card check and will instead force a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election.

In a tweet from the group on Thursday, they said “We are the editorial staff of MSNBC and The Choice. Over 200 of us have signed a union petition to join the @wgaeast,” the group tweeted Thursday.

They say they are organizing to advocate for equal pay for equal work, diversity at every level of production, clear job descriptions and access to career development, a say in the post-COVID-19 workplace, and fair compensation for the hours they spend delivering the news. The union says that this organizing effort has been underway for the past 10 months.

Shortly after announcing the union effort, two of the network's biggest prime-time hosts tweeted their support for the union.

However, MSNBC President Rashida Jones did not offer support for the union or the voluntary recognition they were hoping to get from the supposedly liberal network.

“I believe our employees should be able to make such an important decision through a standard election process,” Jones wrote. “It is important to give everyone who would be included the chance to understand what this would mean before making their choice.”

The decision not to recognize the union voluntarily is often a tactic that companies use to delay the vote so that they can salt the workforce and push them to vote no on the union. The New York Times did the same thing in April, even though they have other much larger unions that work for the newspaper. MSNBC is similar in that they, and their parent network NBC, have numerous contracts with unions like the Teamsters, IATSE, and SAG-AFTRA.

MSNBC is owned by Comcast which is noted for its anti-union behavior. "It is the Walmart of the cable and telecommunications industry," says Downers Grove, Ill., IBEW Local 21 Business Manager Ronald Kastner, who has been trying to organize the cable provider in the Chicago area for years. "There isn't much they won't do to keep unions out."

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