By David McNary Variety February 26, 2020 1:14PM PT
The Writers Guild of America East has filed an unfair labor practice complaint against NBCUniversal over last month’s closure of Peacock Productions, the unit that produces nonfiction television shows.
The complaint, filed with the National Labor Relations Board, alleges that after the WGA East learned that Peacock Productions would cease production except for a “few remaining television shows” the organization discovered that NBC News would continue creating nonfiction content “in a different manner.”
The complaint said the move suggested that the company “was simply getting rid of the Union-represented workforce and therefore the Union contract.”
Representatives of NBCUniversal did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The WGA East won a long unionization battle at Peacock Productions in 2016. In 2019, Peacock Production’s 40-member bargaining unit ratified its first collective bargaining agreement which included a provision for portable health benefits.
The complaint also alleges that NBCUniversal violated federal labor law when it refused to provide information regarding NBCUniversal’s decision to close Peacock Productions.
“Is NBCUniversal unionbusting?” WGA East executive director Lowell Peterson asked in a statement. “Writer-producers at Peacock Productions deserve an answer to this question before the company launches a ‘new’ non-union in-house nonfiction production company that, just like Peacock Productions, will produce programs for NBCUniversal-owned networks and for others. We will use every tool at our disposal to find out why the company plans to shutter a union shop in favor of a non-union shop doing essentially the same work.”
In addition to Peacock Productions, the WGA East has collective bargaining agreements with nonfiction television entities Vox Entertainment, Viceland, Optomen Productions, Lion Television, and Sharp Entertainment and represents writer-producers at ITV’s Kirkstall Road Enterprises and Leftfield Pictures.
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Headline photo of Mr. Peterson featured in Variety article