‘Saturday Night Live’ writers protest NBCU’s handling of union election

Writers from more than 20 shows on the NBC and USA networks are leaning on Comcast/NBCU CEO Stephen Burke to honor the results of a recent union election at NBCU-owned Peacock Productions.

Peacock produces nonfiction programming, including “Caught on Camera” and "Skywire Live With Nik Wallenda,” for basic cable networks. Peacock employees have been working to join the union for more than a year and recently voted to do so.

NBCU is seeking to nullify the election results, contending that the workers are supervisors and not entitled to rights under the National Labor Relations Act, the Writers Guild of America said in a statement.

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After a lengthy hearing, the NLRB regional director disagreed and directed a secret-ballot election, which took place in June. NBCU has successfully had those ballots impounded, pending an appeal.

In protest, writers from NBC shows including “Saturday Night Live,” “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” “30 Rock,” “Law & Order” and “Monk” have written a letter to Burke urging him to drop the appeal and allow the ballots to be counted. 

“We disagree with the Company’s position that these freelancers are supervisory and not entitled to the right to collectively bargain,’' the writers wrote in their letter. "Their work has so much in common with our own. Their careers and livelihoods depend on many of the same things that ours do – health insurance, fair pay, pensions, residuals – things that the WGA has historically collectively bargained with you for.”

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The letter marks the latest effort in an ongoing campaign by the union, which has been organizing writer-producers in nonfiction television since 2009.  Nonfiction television has boomed in recent years, producing low-cost and highly profitable programming that the union maintains relies on low wages and longer work schedules by freelance employees with no healthcare.

NBCU officials were not immediately available for comment.


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