Monday, January 10, 2011

NLRB Orders National Unit Clarification Proceedings in NBC Content Producer Case

In a monumental development concerning the two-year old NBC Content Producer case, the National Labor Relations Board has now ordered that unit clarification proceedings commence immediately concerning petitions filed by NABET-CWA and Locals 11, 31, 41, and 53.

This procedural decision was made by the NLRB General Counsel’s office. As a result, the Board has appointed Michael McConnell to serve as a national Hearing Officer. McConnell recently retired as the Regional Director of NLRB Region 17 in Kansas City, MO.

In 2009, Locals 31, 41, and 53 filed these unit clarification petitions after NBC moved a number of NABET-CWA represented news writers, editors, and EJ personnel into non-represented Content Producer positions. Unit clarification proceedings are designed to determine whether certain groups of employees should be covered by an existing collective bargaining agreement, based upon the type of duties they are performing. In New York, Local 11 had an agreement to represent some Content Producers at WNBC, but filed their UC petition after it became clear that the non-NABET-CWA

Content Producers were doing work covered by the NABET-CWA/NBCU Master Agreement. These petitions, in addition to one filed by the Sector, will be consolidated for the purposes of these proceedings, which will be conducted under the auspices of NLRB Region 2 in New York City.

Besides filing the UC petitions, the Sector and these Locals have also filed a number of Unfair Labor Practice charges against NBC concerning the removal of NABET-CWA represented employees from the bargaining units.

The NLRB has already issued one formal complaint against NBC in this matter, with other complaints pending. The trial on the first complaint was scheduled to begin in Chicago later this month. However, under the General Counsel’s decision, the unit clarification hearings will now be held first, starting in New York within the next few weeks. Attorneys for the Sector and Locals 11, 31, 41, and 53 participated in a pre-hearing procedure conference call with NLRB officials on January 6, 2011 to discuss the hearing schedules for New York, Washington, Chicago, and Burbank.

These hearings could result in all of the former NABET-CWA represented employees being returned to having their work covered under the Master Agreement at WNBC, WRC, WMAQ and KNBC. In addition, all other Content Producers jobs could be accreted into NABET-CWA bargaining units

NABET-CWA President Jim Joyce commented on the impact of this development in the Content Producer case. “On behalf of the Sector and the Locals involved, the Union is very pleased that the new NLRB General Counsel, Lafe Solomon, and his staff, are moving forward with the proper process in this case. These unit clarification proceedings should have been conducted in 2009 when petitions were first filed, as per the agency’s own operating guidelines.” Joyce went on further to say, “Under the watch of the previous General Counsel, Ron Meisburg, a Bush appointee, these petitions were left to languish, and now justice is moving forward. It makes a tremendous difference to have appointees at the NLRB actually carrying out that agency’s mission.”

The final hearing schedule for each city will be decided after another preliminary meeting involving the Union, NBC, and the NLRB is held on January 28.

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