It may not be a very merry Christmas for NBC.
Roughly 3,000 of NBC's producers, writers and technicians threatened to pull the plug on the network's annual holiday special, Christmas in Rockefeller Center, by striking during the live broadcast.
The employees, all members of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians, say NBC has stalled contract negotiations. The union, also known as NABET-CWA, says since the most recent contract expired in March, little progress has been made toward a new deal. In a statement, NABET-CWA accused network management of "ignoring the concerns" of union members.
"We can't let the Grinch at NBC steal another Christmas from thousands of honest working people," said NABET-CWA Local 11 President Ed McEwan. "This charade must stop. Christmas is supposed to be a time of goodwill, but the network's management is trying to hide behind their fancy lights while leaving their employees in the dark."
NBC released a statement blaming the NABET-CWA for the lack of a new contract. The network said the union canceled three days scheduled for negotiations in mid-November. "Since that time, despite the company's availability for meetings, the union has failed to offer alternative dates, as promised, and is apparently unwilling to meet with NBC Universal," the statement read. "Progress can only be made in labor negotiations when the parties are negotiating. It is unfortunate that the union is resorting to threats as opposed to meeting its obligation to engage in collective bargaining."
NABET-CWA also launched the website NBCStoleChristmas.com Tuesday in hopes of pressuring the network into a deal before the special's scheduled airtime of 8/7c on Wednesday.
The union wants contract negotiations expanded to include NBC employees who primarily perform technical duties. "This would protect NBC's flexibility by letting non-union employees do technical work, provided it doesn't become their primary job," McEwan said. "This is an enlightened way forward for both the company and the union. It provides job security for our members and flexibility for NBC as the TV industry continues to rapidly change."