Hollywood strikers accuse NBCUniversal of blocking picket area

Unions claim in labour board complaint that studio infringed on freedom to picket and endangered members.

hollwood strike
Film and television writers are demanding higher streaming-era pay and curbs on the use of artificial intelligence [File: Mike Blake/Reuters]

Hollywood’s striking Writers Guild of America (WGA) and SAG-AFTRA actors’ union have filed a grievance with the United States’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Comcast’s NBCUniversal, accusing the company of blocking a picket area.

The unions said on Tuesday that NBCUniversal infringed its freedom to picket and endangered its members by obstructing a public sidewalk next to the company’s studio lot in California with an ongoing construction project.

The WGA’s complaint said NBCUniversal “forced picketers to patrol in busy streets with significant car traffic where two picketers have already been struck by a car”.

SAG-AFTRA said members had been forced “to picket at the unsafe crowded location, exacerbating the dire public safety situation to interfere with striking members’ right to engage in the protected, concerted activity of picketing and patrolling outside the employer’s premises during a lawful strike”.

Hollywood actors joined film and television writers on picket lines for the first time in 63 years last week as they demanded higher streaming-era pay and curbs on the use of artificial intelligence.

NBCUniversal said it supported the unions’ rights to demonstrate safely, adding it understood the timing of its multi-year construction project had created challenges for demonstrators and it was working with public agencies to increase access.

“We strongly believe that the company has fulfilled our legal obligations under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and we will cooperate with respect to any inquiries by the National Labor Relations Board on this issue,” an NBCUniversal spokesperson said.

Both unions asked the NLRB to order NBCUniversal to remedy the situation.

Source: Reuters