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NBC News Employees Unionize Over Dispute with Management’s Handling of Sexual Misconduct

Noah Oppenheim poses at a screening of Jackie in Los Angeles, Calif., November 14, 2016. (Danny Moloshok/Reuters)

NBC News employees announced Wednesday the formation of a union in the wake of internal criticism directed at executives over their handling of past incidents of work-related sexual misconduct by upper-level management.

“We love working at NBC News Digital. But no organization is perfect, and there are serious issues that keep the company from being as great as it can be,” the group — titled “NBC Guild” — states on its website. “A company with such incredible resources can and should do more to close gender and race wage gaps, address chronic understaffing, meaningfully prioritize diversity, promote transparency, and offer job protections.”

The guild, which has accumulated the support of approximately 75 percent of eligible colleagues, makes several demands of NBC, including that the company prioritize “transparency and sensitivity” in the handling of sexual misconduct allegations, and ensure “that diversity inside the newsroom is a priority.”

The union says that it has requested for management to voluntarily recognize the group’s collective bargaining representative, NewsGuild.

“We can address these issues, but only if management works with us. We seek to build a more equitable workplace in order to enhance the quality and breadth of our journalism and continue to work in the newsroom that we love,” the union’s statement reads. “Forming a union will afford us a collective voice in decisions that will benefit the entire company, providing much-needed transparency and ensuring a safer workplace.”

NBC has been dogged by negative press in recent weeks, largely stemming from allegations revealed in former NBC journalist Ronan Farrow’s new book, “Catch and Kill.”

Farrow accuses NBC of reaching secretive nondisclosure agreements with alleged victims of disgraced Today Show host Matt Lauer’s sexual abuse. The New Yorker writer also claims that NBC executives tried to stop him from investigating sexual abuse claims against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein out of fear that the film producer would expose Lauer’s behavior and their complicity in it.

After NBC President Noah Oppenheim called Farrow’s accusations a “smear” and sent a letter to employees calling the story a “conspiracy theory,” MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes backed Farrow on his primetime show.

“One thing . . . is indisputable,” Hayes said on October 14. “Farrow walked out of NBC News after working on the Weinstein story and within two months published an incredible article in the New Yorker, that not only won a Pulitzer but helped trigger a massive social and cultural reckoning that continues to this day.”

Several days later, NBC confirmed that it would not pursue an outside investigation into Farrow’s claims. An internal investigation from 2018 found that NBC officials had not received formal complaints regarding Lauer’s conduct before November 27, 2017.

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