labor MSNBC Staff Votes to Unionize With Writers Guild East
It’s official: The MSNBC newsroom has voted to unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East.
According to a National Labor Relations Board tally, 141 editorial staffers voted to have the union represent their unit in collective bargaining and 58 voted against it. The NLRB counted the votes on Tuesday after MSNBC chose not to voluntarily recognize the union in June.
Composed of 300 members, the covered group includes writers, producers, booking producers, fact-checkers and planners on MSNBC programs and Peacock’s The Choice. When the bargaining unit announced their unionization campaign in June, they said in a statement that they wanted to join the Guild to promote greater diversity in the newsroom, fair pay and strong benefits, career development opportunities and “because we want to make sure workers have a say in what a post-COVID-19 workplace looks like.”
“Victory! This victory is the first of its kind in cable news and we are so proud of what we’ve all accomplished together,” the MSNBC Organizing Committee said in a statement. “A big thank you to our fellow union members in the Writers Guild, across media, and the entire labor movement. We are also deeply appreciative of our MSNBC coworkers, hosts, regular contributors, and the elected officials who supported us along the way. 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. This is who we are.”
In a memo sent to the network on Tuesday about the vote, MSNBC president Rashida Jones said she was grateful to have held the election, “which gave everyone affected by this process the opportunity to have their voice heard.” She added, “I know there were people who were supportive of the union efforts, and others who did not want to be represented by the union. 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.”
In July, over 1,000 members of the WGA East and West — including director Adam McKay, stars Tina Fey and Amber Ruffin and writers Neil Gaiman and Cord Jefferson — signed a petition in support of the unionization effort. “We work in scripted television and film, including many projects produced by NBC Universal. Through our union membership we have been able to negotiate fair compensation, excellent benefits, and basic fairness at work — all of which are enshrined in our union contract,” the petition read. “We are ready to support you in your effort to do the same. We’re all in this together.”
The MSNBC unit will join a significant number of digital media, cable and broadcast journalists represented by the Guild, which nevertheless represents primarily film and television writers. Companies with WGA East contracts include CBS News, VICE, Vox Media, Hearst Magazines, Gizmodo Media Group, Bustle Digital Group and MTV News, among others. The Guild’s digital news organizing efforts have become a point of contention among candidates for the union’s upcoming Council Election in recent weeks, with one major slate of candidates looking to survey union members on fast growth in the sector and another slate seeking to undo a pause on new organizing in digital newsrooms.
WGA East executive director Lowell Peterson added in his own statement about the results of the vote, “We are so proud that MSNBC’s employees voted strongly in favor of unionizing with the Writers Guild of America, East for the purpose of collective bargaining. 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. We look forward to getting to the bargaining table.”