Union Threatens to Walk Out On NBC Tree Lighting

NABET claims NBC won't negotiate new contract
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The National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET-CWA) union has threatened to walk off on NBC's Christmas in Rockefeller Center special due to stalled contract negotiations with the network. Such a move would see the famous Christmas tree go unlit. 

According to NABET-CWA, which represents nearly 3,000 producers, writers and technicians, the union saw its contract expire in March, with "very little progress" toward a new pact. NABET-CWA says NBC management has grown "increasingly hostile" toward the union.

"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."

The Grinch, of course, stole Christmas gifts, trees, and even the roast beast from the people of Whoville in the Dr. Seuss classic book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The television version aired on ABC Nov. 30.

NABET-CWA has launched NBCStoleChristmas.com to communicate its concerns. The site offers the following poesy:

The grinch won't negotiate with his employees!
Now, please don't ask why. There's no reason anyone sees.
But if he won't, the crew may just might
Do something that would be NBC's blight.
They'll be forced from 30 Rock, and walk away,
And make things go dark come Christmas Day!

The union says the lighting of the famous tree in Rockefeller Center on Dec. 2 is "at serious risk" if negotiations dates are not set.

NABET-CWA says its primary goal is "to protect job security from the network's attempts to dismantle how technical work is assigned, so that NBC's employees who primarily perform those tasks are allowed in the bargaining unit."

NBC didn't have any poetry in response, but its plain English suggested that it was not the one threatening the season's festivities.

"It is ironic that NABET is apparently unhappy about lack of progress in its NBC Universal negotiations when it is the union which recently canceled three days scheduled for negotiations, November 18, 19 and 20," said a network spokeswoman. "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. 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."

A source said the network expected the the broadcast to go on as scheduled.

McEwan did not return a call at presstime.

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