The local chapter of the union that represents nearly 3,000 of the NBC's producers, writers and technicians is threatening to walk out during the network's "Christmas in Rockefeller Center" special tonight—potentially denying millions of viewers the pleasure of seeing a light switch get flicked. The show is supposed to be broadcast tonight starting at 8 p.m., hosted by Jane Krakowski (30 Rock) and Zachary Levi (Chuck). Musical guests include Aretha Franklin, Rod Stewart, Rob Thomas, Alicia Keys, Jo Dee Messina, Barry Manilow, Shakira, The Muppets, and The Roots.
The National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET-CWA) Local 11 says that 3,000 network producers, writers and technicians at NBC have been working without a labor agreement since March. The union claims management has "grown increasingly hostile, ignoring the concerns of the union’s membership." Earlier this week they launched a website, NBCStoleChristmas.com, to publicize the dispute with a little poem, which begins, "Every Who in the crew / Liked the Christmas tree lighting a lot... But the NBC grinch just didn't see / Without them, the lights would light not!"
In a statement released yesterday, NBC blames the union for not negotiating, and executives sought to reassure a panicked nation that the special will air without disruption. The union's official website shows that their last meeting with NBC was on November 9th, and a death in the family of one of the union members led to the cancellation of three follow-up meetings, the Examiner reports. We'll keep you posted on the status of the broadcast today, but just don't do anything crazy like go to Rockefeller Center to watch the lighting in person.
UPDATE: It's a CHRISTMAS MIRACLE! The union just announced that workers will stay on the job after all. In a statement, Local 11 president Ed McEwan said, "We’re not going to let the Grinch at NBC ruin Christmas for millions of people around the world. So we’re going to stay on the job." Of course, to a cynical observer not really feeling the Christmas spirit, it probably looks like the union was just bluffing as a publicity stunt, but who cares? We can watch The Muppets and The Roots on the TV without schlepping to Rock Center!