MSNBC Votes to Unionize in Latest Media Victory for Labor
(Bloomberg) -- MSNBC employees, including writers, producers and fact-checkers, voted to unionize in a government-supervised election, part of a labor-organizing push sweeping the media industry.
The mail-in ballot election, held by the National Labor Relations Board, covered about 300 staff, according to the Writers Guild of America, East. The vote was 141-to-58.
The organizing campaign went public in June, saying a majority of workers had signed a letter requesting that MSNBC, part of Comcast Corp., voluntarily recognize and negotiate with their union. The network’s president, Rashida Jones, declined that request, arguing in a memo reported by the New York Times that “our employees should be able to make such an important decision through a standard election process.”
In an email Tuesday to employees shared with Bloomberg, Jones signaled that the network wouldn’t contest the election result, writing that the guild “will now be the representative” of staff, such as segment producers and production assistants.
“I am glad we held an election, which gave everyone affected by this process the opportunity to have their voice heard,” Jones wrote. “As we all move forward, we’re committed to working together as one unified organization where we’ll continue to respect, support and collaborate with one another, and foster a culture that makes us all proud.”
If the government certifies the union, MSNBC would be required to recognize and collectively bargain with the WGAE. That would extend a wave of unionization victories in recent years in the media industry, including at NBC News’ digital division, where workers voted in 2019 to unionize with the NewsGuild of New York, an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America.
‘First of Its Kind’
“This victory is the first of its kind in cable news,” the MSNBC union’s organizing committee said in an emailed statement. “We now look forward to constructive, good faith negotiations with MSNBC management to make this an even better place to work -- with input from all of us.”
The WGAE has swelled its ranks in recent years by successfully organizing digital journalists at HuffPost, Vox Media and Vice Media, but has been roiled by internal conflict over its organizing priorities. The group recently announced a “pause” on trying to organize new digital media targets, and some leaders have voiced concern about online workers diverting the group’s budget and focus away from television and film struggles.
In an emailed statement Tuesday, WGAE Executive Director Lowell Peterson emphasized the role of unity in securing success at MSNBC: “The organizing campaign at MSNBC took over a year of intense work that saw every sector of our union, from screenwriters to digital news members, join together to deliver a resounding victory.”
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