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Comcast Entertainment Group Defends Its Position On Writers Unionization Efforts

Nellie Andreeva

For the past couple of months, Comcast has been embroiled into a standoff with the WGA over efforts by writers on shows for Comcast Entertainment Group’s E!, Style and G4 networks to get union coverage. The war of words between the two sides, in which  the WGA had  accused Comcast of sabotaging its employees’ attempts to go union and Comcast had insisted that the WGA followed the lengthy NLRB procedure, escalated on Tuesday when the WGA announced that Comcast writers had voted overwhelmingly for WGA representation in a secret ballot election monitored and certified by the office of L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti. Moments later, Comcast dismissed the vote as a “non-binding poll.” This afternoon, Comcast Entertainment Group brass sent out a company-wide e-mail explaining its position on the matter. Here it is

Recently, there has been a lot said surrounding the Writer’s Guild of America West’s desire to represent the writers on some of the shows which air on E!, Style and G4.   We wanted you to hear directly from your leadership team on this.

Let’s begin with a simple fact. The company respects the rights of our employees to decide if they wish to be represented by a union or not. For 75 years, the process of union representation has been handled by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which is an independent federal agency created to safeguard employees’ rights to organize. The NLRB provides a process and determines which employees are in a voting unit and how many units may be within a company. The NLRB then also oversees the secret ballot election.  We support this process as it is the one way to guarantee fairness. You should know that over the years, the WGA has relied on the NLRB process in its organizing activities.  In fact, last year, the WGA West filed three petitions for elections with the NLRB.  We have urged the WGA West to file a petition with the NLRB so that a binding secret ballot election, overseen by the NLRB, can take place.  The WGA West has refused to do this and instead has demanded that E!, Style and G4 immediately recognize the WGAW as the representative of our writers.

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U.S. Sen Boxer Sides With WGA vs Comcast

This afternoon, there was an unexpected development in the battle over union organizing by the writers of Comcast Entertainment Group who’ve engaged the Writers’ Guild of America West for the purposes of collective bargaining with their employer. (CEG includes the E!, Style!, and G4 networks, as well as Versus, Sprout, and Fear Net.) U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer decided to take an active role in the impasse between Comcast and the Writers’ Guild:

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Comcast vs WGA: Latest Guild Battleground

EXCLUSIVE: Comcast and the Writers Guild of America are battling over union organizing. Over the last several months the writers of Comcast Entertainment Group have quietly engaged the Writers’ Guild of America West for the purposes of collective bargaining with their employer. CEG is the cable entertainment wing of Comcast: it includes the E!, Style!, and G4 networks, as well as Versus, Sprout, and Fear Net. Here’s what we’re told is happening:

Inside the company our title is Script Consultant, Story Editor, Producer or anything other than Writer. We decided to send this note to to let you know that collectively we write countless hours of television across E!, Style, & G4. This is scripted television work that deserves the benefits of coverage by WGA contracts.

Instead of honoring our request for recognition, Comcast has chosen to stall and push this off until they feel it is convenient to them, [which is] long past the time they expect the merger with NBC Universal to close. While they work to reorganize their executive staff as if the merger were a fait accompli, we sit and wait for what is, by law, our right. Now, rather than adhering to their promises of good labor relations they made to the WGA, the U.S. Congress and other Hollywood unions and their acknowledgement that Hollywood is a union town, they have chosen to ask for an election with a lengthy hearing process —

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