MSNBC management won’t voluntarily recognize new union effort

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A majority of MSNBC producers, bookers, writers and fact checkers have signed a petition to form a union, but the network won’t recognize the effort until a secret ballot election is held.

The Writers Guild of America, East announced that over 200 of the approximately 315 employees that would be in the union had signed a petition to unionize.

The potential union would also include workers assigned to “The Choice,” a digital commentary service available on NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming platform.

However, new MSNBC president Rashida Jones said in a statement that the network won’t recognize the union or enter into contract negotiations until there is an official secret ballot election.

Jones noted she respected the decision of the workers to unionize.

“I believe our employees should be able to make such an important decision through a standard election process,” Jones wrote in a statement. “It is important to give everyone who would be included the chance to understand what this would mean before making their choice,” she added.

Meanwhile, MSNBC anchors Chris Hayes and Joy Reid, two progressive voices on the network’s schedule, publicly voiced their support of the unionization effort.

While secret ballot elections are perfectly legal and not uncommon when employees attempt to unionize, they are also criticized by labor advocates for stretching out the process and giving management time to dissuade staffers from voting in favor of the union.

Critics noted the dichotomy of MSNBC’s largely progressive messaging but refusal to recognize the union based on a petition, which it, like any company, can do voluntarily.

“We are standing up for each other and our work — because this is who we are,” the bargaining unit said in a statement, a nod to the network’s popular “This is who we are” promo campaign.

In 2019, NBC News digital journalists organized under NewsGuild, but the network has yet to finalize a contract with the union.