NBC News digital employees vote to form union
The digital news employees at NBC News voted to form a union on Friday.
Ballots from a vote conducted earlier this month were tallied and the result was revealed at the National Labor Relations Board’s office in New York City. The union told CNN Business the final vote count was 90-40.
The union covers about 150 editorial employees across NBC News’s digital operations, including NBCNews.com, Today.com, Stay Tuned, MSNBC.com and online streaming network NBC News Now.
“Winning a seat at the table is a huge first step for us,” Tate James, a video editor at NBC News, told CNN Business. “We’re going to continue building a strong, united newsroom that unflinchingly advocates for each other and our work. Next up — a contract that every one of our colleagues will be proud of.”
In a memo to NBC staffers, obtained by CNN Business, Chris Berend, executive vice president of digital at NBC News, wrote, “I have heard from many of you over the past several weeks about your love for NBC News, your excitement for all that we are building in Digital, and your commitment to making sure this continues to be a very special place to work. Our leadership team makes that same commitment back to you— that News Digital will continue to nurture a workplace that we can all be incredibly proud to be a part of.”
In the memo, Berend also acknowledged who the union will represent and who it won’t. “Anyone in a supervisory or people-management role, our Commerce and Strategic Content teams, as well as Product, Technology and Digital Growth & Operations roles are among those who will not be represented,” he wrote.
NBC News did not comment further beyond Berend’s letter.
Employees announced their intention to unionize in October, advocating for fair wages, newsroom diversity and job protections. The announcement came amid turmoil within NBC News sparked by Ronan Farrow’s book “Catch and Kill,” which alleged powerful employees were protected despite accusations of sexual harassment and other wrongdoings. Farrow also alleged NBC’s leadership inappropriately quashed his reporting on Harvey Weinstein.
The campaign to unionize was already well underway prior to the book’s publication, but these allegations gave staffers more reason to organize. The union said in October that about 75% of eligible employees had signed on as they asked for voluntary recognition from management.
Unions have spread across digital newsrooms in recent years as employees seek to improve workplace conditions. NBC News employees unionized through the NewsGuild, which represents employees at BuzzFeed News, The Daily Beast and The New York Times, among other publications. Employees at Hearst Magazines announced their intention to unionize in November through the Writers Guild of America, East.
“We have seen time and again that media workers win significant improvements to their working conditions when they come together and bargain collectively. We look forward to getting to the bargaining table with our members, and we expect NBC management to work with us in good faith to secure a strong contract for this talented newsroom,” Susan DeCarava, president-elect of NewsGuild of New York, said in a statement.
Ahead of the vote, some NBC News employees organized an anti-union effort that included an Instagram account and a website. The Instagram account, called No NBC NewsGuild, shared cutesy illustrations about some concerns, such as the union’s effect on pet insurance. An NBC News spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter that company management was not involved in those anti-union efforts.
“We couldn’t be more proud of the work this union has done, the connections we’ve made, the victory we earned and the work we will do together,” Andrew Stern, video producer at NBC News, said a statement. “No matter how our colleagues voted, we stand in solidarity with each of them, ready to work tirelessly to build the newsroom we deserve.”