Part of NBC News Forms a Union, Says Network ‘Mishandled’ Sexual Misconduct Allegations

October 30, 2019 Updated: October 30, 2019

The digital portion of NBC News announced on Oct. 30 it formed a union and alleged the network “mishandled” sexual assault allegations, including those against longtime “Today” show host Matt Lauer.

The NBC News Guild was formed with the NewsGuild of New York.

“At NBC, we’re told ‘the future of digital media is the future of media.’ We—the reporters, editors, designers, video journalists, copy editors, animators, social media strategists, and editorial staff of NBC News Digital—couldn’t agree more. That is why we have decided to form a union with the NewsGuild of New York. Our mission is to uphold the legacy of NBC News while empowering and protecting those who will build its future,” the union said in a statement.

“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. 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 statement continued.

“Management has indicated they are committed to addressing some of these issues—ending nine-hour working shifts, adjusting weekend staffing, increasing standard vacation time, and implementing select pay raises. While we strongly welcome any steps forward, we want to cement these positive benefits into an enforceable contract.”

Among the other complaints was how NBC “mishandled serious incidents of sexual misconduct and racism without the transparency and sensitivity such issues require.”

Noah Oppenheim, president of NBC News, in a 2018 file photograph. (Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
matt lauer in file
Matt Lauer attends NBC’s ‘Today’ at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City on Nov. 20, 2012. (Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

“Recent weeks have highlighted serious questions as to how NBC News has handled incidents of sexual misconduct in the workplace as well as the opaque processes and procedures for reporting on and exposing powerful predators. NBC News repeatedly refused calls for an independent review on both counts despite numerous such requests from staff. This lack of transparency and NBC News’ troubling trend of passing on stories which investigate the powerful ultimately harm our credibility as journalists,” the union added.

According to a book from former NBC reporter Ronan Farrow that was recently published, executives at the network swept sexual misconduct allegations under the rug and also tried to kill a story about Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual abuse and rape.

The book included accuser Brooke Nevils saying Lauer raped her, which Lauer denied.

The book prompted fresh calls for an independent investigation into what executives knew about Lauer and other cases. NBC conducted an internal probe after Lauer was fired and found no wrongdoing in the handling of the Lauer case.

NBC has thus far refused to have a third-party conduct a probe, and no executives named in the book have faced repercussions. NBC has denied the allegations outlined by Farrow.

The network said last week it would release any ex-employee who was allegedly sexually harassed while working at NBC News from their non-disclosure agreements, or NDAs. Current employees and employees elsewhere in the network weren’t released.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
RECOMMENDED