Chris Hayes attends secret NBC union meeting. Who skips it? Ed Schultz, Friend of Labor!
Amid workers alleging union-busting by an NBC Universal-owned company, MSNBC’s prime-time host Chris Hayes recently met privately with a group of them to hear their concerns, according to several people present at the meeting.
Hayes is one of five prime-time MSNBC hosts – along with Rachel Maddow, Al Sharpton, Lawrence O’Donnell and Ed Schultz – whose support the Writers Guild of America–East is seeking in an ugly labor struggle with Peacock Productions, which is owned by NBC Universal and has produced programming for MSNBC. A petition posted by the AFL-CIO and hosted by MoveOn.org Civic Action asks the five hosts to “Please meet with these workers and take a public stand to support their right to organize” at Peacock Productions. None of the five has so far publicly addressed the issue.
Hayes, Maddow, Sharpton and O’Donnell did not comment in response to Monday inquiries (sent to MSNBC or personal email addresses, to Sharpton’s National Action Network, and to Random House, which published Maddow’s book; Random House referred the inquiry to MSNBC).
But, asked about the campaign, Schultz emailed Salon, “Moveon.org has never been an ally of Ed Schultz, why should I help you with a story? Give me a reason.” A follow-up email was not answered. (The email came from a personal address provided to Salon by people who have been in touch with him there; following a series of inquiries, an MSNBC spokesperson said, “I can’t confirm that e-mail address,” but declined to dispute that it belonged to Schultz.)
In apparent contrast to his colleagues, Hayes met with Peacock Productions workers in a private meeting with WGA-E staff at the union’s office, according to people who were in the room (Hayes did not respond to a Monday request to comment on that account). “We presented our case to Chris Hayes and he understood what we were dealing with …” Peacock Productions worker David Van Taylor told Salon. “I don’t know whether Chris Hayes will do anything in support of us – you know, of this campaign. I have no idea. But he listened and he heard us. And you know, I appreciate that he took the time to listen.”
WGA-E organizing director Justin Molito confirmed the meeting but said he could not provide further detail on the private sit-down. He said the union saw MSNBC’s prime-time hosts as “natural allies in the rights of employees that work in the same building as them, and for the same company as them.” Peacock Productions’ programming includes Investigation Discovery’s true-crime show “I’d Kill for You” and political documentaries for MSNBC.
Molito alleged that NBC Universal – owned by Comcast – was guilty of hypocrisy, treating Peacock Productions workers in a way that defied the values promoted on its cable channel, MSNBC: running “a textbook anti-union campaign that you would see at companies like Wal-Mart”; attempting “voter suppression” by preventing union election ballots from being counted; and exploiting the “right-wing extremist takeover in Congress” by mounting National Labor Relations Board stalling tactics abetted by recent Senate obstruction. An NBC spokesperson referred an inquiry regarding the Peacock Productions dispute to a colleague, who did not respond to a request. In an August statement provided to the LA Times, NBC said, “We believe that Peacock’s producers hold meaningful supervisory authority, which, according to Federal Labor Law, excludes them from voting.”