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Topics: Labor Unions

NBC leans forward toward union-busting, NLRB says

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Sean Higgins,Labor unions,Labor,MSNBC,NBC,NLRB,AFL-CIO

National Labor Relations Board members ruled Monday that NBC Universal, the parent company of the namesake TV network and the cable news channel MSNBC, was illegally refusing to deal with its employees' union, the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians. It ordered the company to "cease and desist" avoiding the union.

"[T]he Respondent has been failing and refusing to bargain collectively and in good faith with the exclusive collective-bargaining representative of its unit employees and has engaged in unfair labor practices," ruled a three-member NLRB majority.

The announcement is ironic given that MSNBC has remade itself as a liberal news outlet and advocate of progressive causes like collective bargaining. Many of the hosts of its news programs, like Ed Schultz, are vociferous supporters of organized labor.

Nevertheless, the NLRB stated that although the corporation recognized NABET in 2006 as the workers' exclusive representative, it has not negotiated a contract with the union since the last one ran out in 2009. The board also said the corporation has refused to provide the union with the information it needs to properly represent the workers.

It is not clear exactly how many NBC Universal employees NABET represents. A spokesman for the union could not be reached. NBC Universal has not responded to a request for comment.

The corporation's disputes with organized labor have created some awkward moments for MSNBC's liberal hosts. Last year, the AFL-CIO and Moveon.org produced a joint petition calling on Schultz, Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Al Sharpton and Lawrence O'Donnell to meet with NBC workers seeking to unionize. Hayes was the only one to do so and did it privately, according to Salon.com.

Schultz was slammed by his fellow liberals last year for dismissing the petition and his contemptuous reactions to inquiries from liberal labor beat reporters Josh Eidelson and Mike Elk.

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