Both the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA filed labor complaints against NBCUniversal on Tuesday, alleging that the company is disrupting their strike efforts.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the complaints allege that NBCUniversal has “interfered with, coerced and restrained employees in the exercise of their rights” during the dual strike. Grievances include allegedly designating picket locations that were obstructed by construction fencing, resulting in marching in busy streets on which they say two picketers have been struck by cars, and not providing barriers to establish pedestrian walkways.
In a statement to the L.A. Times, NBCUniversal said: “We strongly believe that the company has fulfilled our legal obligations under the National Labor Relations Act and we will cooperate with respect to any inquiries by the National Labor Relations Board on this issue. While we understand the timing of our multi-year construction project has created challenges for demonstrators, we continue to work with public agencies to increase access.”
Picketers also took to social media this week to point out that trees lining the sidewalk outside of Universal Studios in Los Angeles had been trimmed, therefore providing no shade to picketers during a heat wave.
L.A. City Controller Kenneth Mejia said he is looking into the matter. “Our office is investigating the tree trimming that occurred outside Universal Studios where workers, writers and actors are exercising their right to picket,” he wrote. “The trimmed trees are L.A. City managed street trees.”
L.A. City Council member Nithya Raman also tweeted that “after looking into the matter with the Urban Forestry Division (UFD), we found that no permit was issued for any tree trimming at this site.” According to Raman, UFD and StreetsLA are looking into whether a citation can be issued.
In a statement to the L.A. Times, NBCUniversal said they were aware that “the safety tree trimming of the Ficus trees we did on Barham Blvd. has created unintended challenges for demonstrators.”
“That was not our intention. In partnership with licensed arborists, we have pruned these trees annually at this time of year to ensure that the canopies are light ahead of the high wind season,” NBCUniversal continued. “We support the WGA and SAG’s right to demonstrate, and are working to provide some shade coverage. We continue to openly communicate with the labor leaders on-site to work together during this time.”
Last week, the actors union SAG-AFTRA joined the Writers Guild of America on strike after an agreement was not reached with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The WGA has been on strike since May 2, and SAG-AFTRA’s participation marks the first time both unions were on strike since 1960.