NBCUniversal Investigated for Cutting Trees During SAG-AFTRA Picketing in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles City Controller’s office is currently investigating NBCUniversal after a row of trees outside its studios were severely trimmed during a picketing protest by members of SAG-AFTRA. This resulted in the elimination of shade during a searing heatwave, which has led to concerns about public health and environmental consequences. City Controller Kenneth Mejia labeled trees as essential for providing environmental and health benefits during such extreme weather conditions.

Controversy Surrounding Tree Trimming

Comedian Chris Stephens posted a picture on Twitter showing the row of trees with their limbs severely trimmed, expressing gratitude to NBCUniversal for removing shade just before a week of 90+ degree temperatures. However, NBCUniversal denies any malicious intent, stating that the trimming was done as an annual safety measure to reduce the weight of the canopies in preparation for the high wind season. They claim that the trees are managed by the city, not by NBCUniversal.

However, City Controller Mejia argues that the responsibility of tree management lies with the city and that annual trimming is unnecessary, as trees should be trimmed every five years. The Los Angeles Public Works Department also confirmed that no tree trimming permits were issued for the area outside Universal’s offices.

SAG-AFTRA and WGA Unfair Labor Practices Charges

Both SAG-AFTRA and WGA have filed unfair labor practices charges against NBCUniversal with the National Labor Relations Board. These labor unions aim to rectify what they consider a violation of their members’ rights. They expressed concern about the safety of their picketers due to suspiciously timed construction and the recent tree trimming that eliminated shade during record-breaking heat.

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Tensions and Concerns

The rising temperatures in Los Angeles, anticipated to reach the low 90s this week, pose a significant risk to picketers’ health without sufficient shade. Direct sunlight exposure can increase “feels like” temperatures by up to 15 degrees, leading to heat stroke and exhaustion. The ongoing labor dispute between studios and unions has intensified, with anonymous studio executives allegedly stating their intent to break the WGA and wait until union members face severe financial hardships.

Call for Humanity and Dignity

Actor Ron Perlman addressed the studio executives’ approach, emphasizing the importance of maintaining humanity and dignity in the ongoing labor dispute. He highlighted that this strike reflects the soullessness of corporate America and called for a focus on human dignity throughout the negotiation process. Perlman disputed the idea that breaking everyone involved is an appropriate response.

Labor disputes in the United States have historically been protracted and, at times, violent, underscoring the challenges faced by unions in safeguarding workers’ rights and fair treatment within various industries.

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