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Writers Guild, NBC Battle Heats Up

Guild attempting to unionize doucumentary producers

The Writers Guild of America has amped up its battle with NBC’s documentary-reality operation Peacock Prods., taking its unionization case to Comcast/NBCU topper Stephen Burke.

The guild has been attempting to unionize 100 freelance producers and associate producers for more than a year. Peacock produces nonfiction programming for basic cable networks such as “Caught on Camera” and “Skywire Live with Nik Wallenda.”

The WGA East announced Monday that writers from more than 20 shows on NBC and USA networks have written to Burke urging him to “respect the results” of a recent representation election at Peacock.

Vareity first reported in June that the Natl. Labor Relations Board had impounded ballots from an election held to determine whether the producers would be represented by the WGA East. The ballots remain uncounted due to NBC filing an appeal to an NLRB ruling, which rejected the network’s assertion that Peacock producers are “supervisors” and are therefore ineligible to vote.

The letter was signed by writers from “Saturday Night Live,” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” “30 Rock,” “Community,” “Law & Order,” “Law & Order Special Victims Unit,” “Law & Order Criminal Intent,” “Parks and Recreation” and “The Tonight Show.”

NBCU attorneys assert that fully half the employees in the proposed bargaining unit at Peacock are “supervisors” who are not entitled to any protection under the NLRA. After a lengthy hearing and extensive briefing, the NLRB Regional Director disagreed and directed the secret-ballot election.

“We are mystified by NBCU’s refusal to honor the results of the NLRB election,” said WGA East exec director Lowell Peterson. “The company employs a lot of Guild members and, as the letter we delivered to the CEO makes clear, those members don’t think their colleagues should have fewer rights and lesser conditions.”

NBC responded to the letter with a statement noting that the ballots were impounded by  the NLRB until a decision is made.

“We are still waiting for the NLRB to render their decision, which is why no votes have been counted,” it added. “We believe that Peacock’s producers hold meaningful supervisory authority, which according to Federal Labor Law, excludes them from voting. The Board decided to review the Regional Director’s decision and is currently in the process of doing so.”

Signers of the letter include: Doug Abeles, “SNL”;  Jill Abbinanti, “Law & Order: SVU”;  Chris Albers, “Late Night with Conan O’Brien”;  Benjamin Apple, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”;  Jon Robin Baitz, “The West Wing”;  Casey Barrett, “NBC’s New Years Eve with Carson Daly”;  Bridget Bedard, “1600 Penn”; Andrew Bergman, various;  Patrick Borelli, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”;  Peter Blauner, “Law & Order: SVU”;  Kyle Bradstreet, “The Philanthropist”;  Tom Ceraulo, “30 Rock”;  Rob Cohen, “Law & Order: SVU”;  Luke Cunningham, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”;  Brian De Castro, NBC Promotions;  Janine DiTullio, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”;  Michael Drucker, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”;  Jess Dweck, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”;  Tom Fontana, “Homicide: Life on the Street” and Kevin Fox, “Law & Order: SVU.”

Other signers include  Lewis Friedman, various;  Gina Gionfriddo, “Law & Order”;  David Handelman, “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”;  James Hart, “A Friggin’ Christmas Miracle”;  James V. Hart, various;  John Haskell, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”;  Philip Johnston, various;  Rolin Jones, “Smash”;  Larry Kaplow, “Law & Order: SVU”;  Rob Klein, “SNL”;  Chris Kula, “Community”;  N. Gail Lawrence, “Passions”;  Warren Leight, “Law & Order: SVU”;  John Markus, “The Cosby Show”;  Julie Martin, “Law & Order: SVU”;  Sam Means, “30 Rock”;  Coleen McGuiness, “30 Rock”;  Arthur Meyer, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”;  Christine Nangle, “SNL”;  Marygrace O’Shea, “Law & Order” and Nina Pedrad, “30 Rock.”

Additional signers:  Michael Rauch, “Royal Pains”;  Jackie Reingold, “Smash”;  Albertina Rizzo, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”;  John P. Roche, “Law & Order: SVU”;  Kate Rorick, “Law & Order”;  David Rosen, various;  Tom Scharpling, “Monk”;  Josh Silberman, “30 Rock”;  Diana Son, “Law & Order”;  Brian Stack, “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien”;  Jen Statsky, “Parks and Recreation”;  Bryan Tucker, “SNL”;  Jessica Vale, NBC Promotions;  Tracey Wigfield, “30 Rock”;  Tracey Wilson, “Do No Harm” and  James Yoshimura, “Homicide: Life on the Street.”

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