Baer, Balcer back writers at Comcast shows
A group of 140 NBC writers has endorsed the drive by the Writers Guild of America West to unionize the writers at 10 shows at the Comcast Entertainment Group.“We believe that Comcast Entertainment Group’s writers should have what we have, a Writers Guild of America contract that provides portable pension and health benefits, fair payment for reuse and resale of their material, reasonable minimums and other appropriate employment terms,” said the letter, released Wednesday. Notable signers include Neal Baer (“Law and Order: SVU”), Rene Balcer (“Law and Order: Los Angeles”), Robert Borden (“Outsourced”), Cindy Chupack (“Love Bites”), Evan Katz (“The Event”), Matt Nix (“Burn Notice”), Mike Schur (“Parks and Recreation”), David Shore (“House”) and Nick Wauters (“The Event”). Comcast has rebuffed the unionizing effort. The WGA has asserted that it’s received authorization cards from more than 80% of writers on the shows: “Attack of the Show,” “Chelsea Lately,” “E! News,” “E! Specials,” “Fashion Police,” “G4 Specials,” “The Dish,” “The Soup,” “Web Soup” and “X-Play.” The letter notes that if the Comcast-NBC Universal merger is approved, the writers will be generating revenue for the same company and quotes the Feb. 25 testimony of Comcast CEO Brian Roberts at a House Judiciary Committee hearing: “And so one of our commitments upfront is we hope to continue the good relations with the guilds and with the unions that NBC Universal has.” The scribes’ letter adds, “Therefore, we call on Comcast Entertainment Group to live up to its pledge and immediately recognize and negotiate with the Writers Guild of America West.” Comcast responded to the WGA last month by asserting that it would not give recognition to the WGA unless it filed a petition for a secret ballot election with the National Labor Relations Board. Comcast senior VP Kathy Mandato said at that point, “We want employees to learn all the facts about union representation before voting as to whether or not they want to be part of a union.” At the time, WGA West exec director David Young responded by blasting Comcast Entertainment Group and asserting that NLRB elections “are usually banana republic affairs that are held after a period of delay that employers use to terrorize workers and threaten their jobs.” Young also said Comcast’s track record with unions is one of many reasons why Comcast’s merger with NBC Universal should be opposed.