CFL News
October 28, 2011

NLRB Victory Restores Union Rights to NBC ‘Content Producers’

A huge NLRB ruling for news writers for television news programs restores their collective bargaining rights previously stripped by management

In a resounding victory for NABET-CWA, an NLRB ruling out of Region 2 in New York City orders NBC to reinstate the bargaining rights of “content producers,” a title the network created three years ago to strip union representation from nearly 100 photographers, editors and writers.

“On behalf of our affected members and their families, we are extremely pleased with this outcome,” NABET-CWA President Jim Joyce said. “NBC wasted shameful amounts of money to pay for outside legal counsel and consultants just so that it could take away union-negotiated wages and benefits from its workers, many of whom have been loyal NBC employees and NABET-CWA members for years.”

NBC tried to claim that it was consolidating work and creating new, non-union jobs. But the ruling said testimony at hearings this year in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., made it clear that so-called content producers were doing the same work they’d always done, just with a different title.

“The evidence warrants the conclusion that content producers perform the same basic functions previously performed by bargaining unit employees,” said Elbert Tellem, NLRB acting director for Region 2 (New York).

Because NABET-CWA filed the cases as “unit clarification,” NBC has limited rights of appeal. Procedure allows for a full NLRB hearing but no further appeals in federal court, Joyce said.

The decision affects both NABET members who lost their bargaining rights, as well as new employees hired as content producers. Their rights are expected to be restored without delay, Joyce said, even while NBC pursues an NLRB appeal.

Content producers at NBC and NBC-owned stations in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles are directly affected by the ruling.

The decision comes as NABET and NBC begin the fourth year of negotiations for a new contract. In August, NABET members overwhelmingly rejected an NBC proposal that would have rolled back seniority and jurisdiction provisions, among other concessions.

To view the entire NLRB Region 2 decision, click here.