MSNBC host Chris Hayes recently met workers who are in a labor dispute with NBCUniversal, the parent company of his network, according to a report today from Josh Eidelson at Salon. Eidelson says, Hayes, host of "All In," attended a private meeting with writers and producers who work for Peacock Productions, a company owned by NBC that provides content for multiple networks, including MSNBC.
“We presented our case to Chris Hayes and he understood what we were dealing with...," Eidelson quotes Peacock Productions worker David Van Taylor. “I don’t know whether Chris Hayes will do anything in support of us—you know, of this campaign. I have no idea. But he listened and he heard us. And you know, I appreciate that he took the time to listen.”
Writers Guild of America, East, (WGAE) Organizing Director Justin Molito said Peacock is running:
...'a textbook anti-union campaign that you would see at companies like Wal-Mart'; attempting 'voter suppression' by preventing union election ballots from being counted; and exploiting the 'right-wing extremist takeover in Congress' by mounting National Labor Relations Board stalling tactics abetted by recent Senate obstruction.
According to Eidelson, he said the company subjected the writers and producers to mandatory anti-union meetings and one-on-one conversations. Even worse, the company raised legal challenges that led to union election votes being impounded and uncounted. The company argued that many of the workers were actually supervisors and shouldn't be allowed to vote in the union election. “The idea that a group of workers who wants to organize, who actually does not have supervisory authority, should be ‘protected’ by disallowing them to vote is patently absurd,” Molito said. According to Eidelson's report, Comcast, which owns NBC, threatened to shut down Peacock if the writers form a union and pro-union writers and producers saw their workloads cut and were given lower-prestige stories to work on.
In support of the writers, the WGAE started a petition asking MSNBC prime-time hosts Hayes, Rachel Maddow, Al Sharpton, Lawrence O’Donnell and Ed Schultz to publicly take a stand in support of the writers. Schultz declined to meet with the writers, and the other hosts have made no public comment about the story.