L.A. City Auditor Investigates Tree-Trimming vs. Picket-Busting

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NBCUniversal faces complaints about picket safety

The ongoing strike by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has taken a new turn as both unions have filed grievances against NBCUniversal. The complaints allege that the studio engaged in “illegal conduct” by allowing pickets to march across blocked sidewalks at the west end of its campus. Unions claim the studio ignored the Los Angeles Police Department’s safety recommendations, thereby jeopardizing the picket line.

The complaints were filed with the National Labor Relations Board on July 18, just hours after The Hollywood Reporter first reported on the issue. NBCUniversal has said it will cooperate with any agency requests. However, LA City Manager Kenneth Mejia has announced that his department will investigate the tree cuttings that took place outside Universal Studios, where pickets exercised their right to protest.

The WGA has not yet responded to requests for comment, but SAG-AFTRA issued a statement expressing concern over the construction and tree felling work, which has forced pickets into unsafe conditions. The actors’ union said it could not safely send its members to pickets at NBCUniversal due to a lack of safety rails and shade during a record heat wave. SAG-AFTRA is working with the Writers Guild to counteract this violation of its members’ rights through the Labor Board and other means.

Mejia’s investigation appears to be in response to social media outcry over the pruning of trees along a picket-lined section of Barham Blvd. to be. Many people expressed concern that the trees were being pruned in the summer, when they need shade the most. NBCUniversal claims the pruning was done for safety reasons, as the treetops needed to be lightened ahead of the high wind season. The studio has said it supports unions’ right to demonstrate and is working to bring some shade to the pickets.

Typically, responsibility for felling trees along public sidewalks is the responsibility of the Los Angeles Department of Public Works’ Bureau of Street Services. The agency’s website states that the current pruning cycle is about 15 years. The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to the agency for comment on the situation.

This latest development highlights the growing tensions between the unions and NBCUniversal during the strike. The pickets demanded better wages, benefits and working conditions as the studio tried to continue operating despite the protests. Complaints filed with the Labor Board further complicate the situation as they allege the studio’s actions violated labor laws.

The outcome of these complaints remains uncertain, but they are reminiscent of the power dynamics at work in Hollywood. The unions are fighting for the rights of their members and are determined to hold studios accountable for their actions. In the meantime, NBCUniversal must strike the difficult balance between maintaining its operations and addressing the concerns of the pickets.

As the strike continues, it is likely that more issues will arise that will further test the resolve of both sides. The outcome of this labor dispute will have far-reaching implications for the entire entertainment industry. It remains to be seen how NBCUniversal and the unions will resolve their differences and whether this conflict will lead to lasting changes in the industry.

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