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.