The Writers Guild of America East has confirmed that 204 employees of the MSNBC’s newsroom bargaining unit “have signed a petition to recognize the guild as their bargaining representative and that more are expected to sign up in the coming days.”
The roles affected by this effort include news writers, producers, booking producers, fact-checkers, and planners at every program airing on the cable news outlet, including The Rachel Maddow Show, Deadline Whitehouse, All In with Chris Hayes, The Reidout, Morning Joe, Politics Nation, The Beat with Ari Melber, MSNBC Reports, MTP Daily, The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Way Too Early with Kasie Hunt, Zerlina, and The Mehdi Hasan Show.
Lowell Peterson, the WGA East executive director, called on MSNBC to voluntarily recognize them as the new bargaining representative of newsroom employees. He said, “We hope and expect MSNBC to remain true to its commitment to progressive values by respecting its employees’ decision and recognizing our union promptly,” he said. “We are proud that the hard-working newsroom employees at MSNBC decided to unionize with the WGAE. They join thousands of their colleagues in the news and entertainment industries who recognize that collective bargaining is the most effective way to win a voice at work and to build sustainable careers.”
President of MSNBC’s Rashida Jones expects there to be another election supervised by the government. “I respect our employees’ right to decide whether they want to be represented by a union,” she said in a message to her staff, “and I believe our employees should be able to make such an important decision through a standard election process. An election supervised by the government allows all affected employees to express their views on unionizing through a secret ballot. It is important to give everyone who would be included the chance to understand what this would mean before making their choice.”
The bargaining unit says it wants MSNBC to recognize the guild and begin bargaining for a first-ever contract. “We are calling on the network to recognize our union, and we are looking forward to constructive negotiations over the issues that are important to all of us,” they said in a statement. “An overwhelming majority of our coworkers at MSNBC have signed a petition for union recognition to join over 7,000 members of the WGAE, which includes thousands of journalists working in cable, broadcast, and digital media. At a time when journalists and journalism itself are under siege, we want to join our peers who have paved the road before us in standing up for our rights.”
They also put out a statement about why they are unionizing. “We organized because our work is more vital now than ever. We organized because our voices must be heard in the newsroom for the future of our industry. We organized because we want to guarantee diversity in our newsroom at every level of production. We organized because we want to ensure that every employee is paid fairly for their work and has access to career development. We organized because we want every employee to have access to benefits that meet our families’ needs and reflect our contributions. We organized because we want to make sure workers say what a post-Covid-19 workplace looks like. We organized because we believe every employee should be fairly compensated for their hours working to deliver the news. We organized because we want to ensure that employees are treated equally and paid equally for equal work. We are standing up for each other and our work – because this is who we are.”
The roster of newsrooms represented by the WGA East include CBS News and ABC News, as well as at dozens of other news outlets, including 1010 WINS, Bustle Digital Group, CBSN, Chalkbeat, Committee to Protect Journalists, Entercom (WCBS-AM, WBBM-AM, KNX-AM), Fast Company, Fox 5 WNYW-TV, FT Specialist, Future Plc, Gizmodo Media Group, Hearst Magazines, HuffPost, Inc., The Intercept, Jewish Currents, MTV News, NowThis, Onion Inc., Refinery29, Salon, Slate, Talking Points Memo, Thirteen Productions (Thirteen/WNET), Thrillist, Vice, Vox Media, and WBBM-CBS 2 News.
– Excerpt from an article for Deadline by David Robb, Ted Johnson. Read the full article here.
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