NBC News Guild, WGAE Object To News Division And MSNBC Layoffs

The NBC News Guild and the Writers Guild of America, East are objecting to a round of layoffs at the network this week, which impacted dozens of employees.

The NBC News Guild, which covers digital employees, said that it filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board.

“Yesterday NBC News management abruptly and illegally laid off several union journalists without providing us any advance notice or rationale,” the NBC News Guild said in a statement posted on social media.

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The guild also said that the network was trying to remove MSNBC.com staffers from the union, informing them that they were “no longer a part of the guild,” effective on Friday.

“The clear violation of the law is yet another brazen example of NBC attempting to strip its workers of their right to organize and bargain together,” the guild said.

The guild, certified in 2019 and with about 150 employees at the time, does not yet have a contract. But Tate James, NBC News Guild unit chair, said that the complaint is that NBC News still is required to bargain with the guild because it involves significant changes to working conditions. They have learned of about a half dozen News Guild members impacted, he said.

An NBC News source challenged the guild’s assertion that a law was violated and contended that notice was given of the impacts of the layoffs. The company plans to schedule follow ups with the guild to discuss in more details. The source also said that reporting structures have shifted, something that is not uncommon at companies. The guild now represents about 300 employees as new positions have been added in the past year, the source said.

The layoffs were in the double digits, according to a source, out of a workforce of about 3,500. The staff cuts also were scattered across the divisions at NBC News and MSNBC, according to the source. The job reductions followed the announcement earlier this week of layoffs across the parent company NBCUniversal, numbering in the dozens. Other media outlets, like CNN and Gannett, gave undergone layoffs in recent months that have impacted hundreds of employees, as the media business grapples with a slowdown in ad spending.

The Writers Guild of America, East, which represents some 300 MSNBC employees, said in a statement Friday that it is “extremely frustrated and disappointed” by the recent round of layoffs there, which includes 30 of its members. The guild, which doesn’t yet have a contract with the cable news network, also called on the company to “agree to fair contract.”

“This not only negatively impacts the individuals laid off, but every member of our unit and the shows we put on air,” the guild said. “The layoffs highlight our need for a fair union contract that locks in meaningful severance and other protections, and that addresses the inevitable impact on workload. Staff reductions mean greater workloads, longer hours, and longer workweeks. We have spent over a year in bargaining with NBC management discussing reasonable proposals to enable people to do great work without suffering from overwork and burnout – and to have a livable work/life balance.”

The WGAE also contended that the layoffs were made without advance notice.

“We urge NBC management to retain as many employees as possible in other jobs at the company, and to agree to a fair contract that addresses these workload and work/life issues and provides livable wages and other critical protections,” the WGAE said in a statement.

Some of those laid off began sharing the news of their exits shortly after getting word. Jesselyn Cook, who covered online harms. She wrote that she got back from maternity leave to find out that she got a notice. “It was a very short run, but I’m grateful for the time I had here.” Also getting a notice was Ezra Kaplan, business and tech producer for the network, as well as Carly Marsh, digital video producer at Today.

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