Given the global pandemic, we find ourselves in a unique moment – obviously, these are unprecedented times. MSNBC executives may use this talking point to try to persuade us that now is not the right time to form a union. But it’s just the opposite: it is clear that we need to have a seat at the table. We formed our union to ensure that we all have a voice and more security at work, and to bring us together in times of great difficulty. And we believe that the best way to navigate the ever-changing media industry, pandemic or not, is together.
We might hear that unions create divisiveness between staff and management. Joining a union does not mean all conversations or disagreements will become contentious. Employees can still try to work out issues with their managers through direct, polite conversation. However, if there is a conflict that has become intractable, unions provide employees an additional resource (and the support of fellow members) for resolution. In addition, a union contract will guarantee minimum standards for employees.
The MSNBC unionization effort was started as an act of optimism to make sure every single employee has a safe, fair, and equitable working environment, not to stoke division.
A union contract also does not mean that merit raises, or higher salaries based on seniority vanish. Once a union is recognized a “status quo period” takes effect meaning management cannot cut salaries, or take away benefits without a negotiation. Management is still allowed to give merit based raises during this time.
One of the most common anti-union talking points is the idea that the union is an outside entity that will impose restrictive rules or create more bureaucracy. Management will often ask staff to give the company a chance to make improvements before bringing in a union. But the union is not a third party. It’s all of our colleagues coming together to establish common priorities and bargain collectively over the terms and conditions of our employment. It’s the only way for staff to have a guaranteed seat at the table and a guaranteed say in pay, working conditions, and benefits. The union can be used to establish things like employee site reps and labor management committees, which will increase, not limit, open lines of communication.
Often these types of messages are delivered by management via email as well as individual and group meetings. Most anti-union campaigns use the same script – one example is management’s unsuccessful anti-union campaign at Thrillist. Management is not allowed to interrogate, intimidate or threaten you over your union activity. If you feel your rights have been infringed upon, contact the MSNBC Union organizing committee: email@example.com.