Johnny Doc’s Union Asks Homeland Security to Investigate NBC10

Alleges that the cameramen hired to replace the striking NBC10 workers fraudulently gained access to events during Pope Francis' visit to Philadelphia.

A Local 98 protest outside of Comcast headquarters.

A Local 98 protest outside of Comcast headquarters.

In order to cover the World Meeting of Families events in Philadelphia last week, including the various appearances by Pope Francis himself, members of the media had to undergo background checks and be individually approved by the World Meeting of Families well in advance. So when NBC10’s camera crews went on strike just before the big weekend, some of us wondered how they would possibly get their fill-in staff credentialed in time. Well, John Dougherty‘s Local 98 union claims it may have the answer.

On Thursday, Local 98 president Brian Burrows sent a letter to United States Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, alleging a “serious breach of security” caused by the station and asking the agency to investigate. Philadelphia magazine has obtained a copy of that letter (below).

In it, Burrows claims that NBC10, which is owned by Comcast, hired replacement camera crews and technicians one day prior to the pope’s visit and suggests that they were not properly credentialed. After all, the deadline for credentials had long since passed. A spokesperson for NBC10 denies this claim, saying, “All credentials obtained by NBC10 to cover the World Meeting of Families were obtained through the proper channels and provided by the appropriate authorities.” They later updated their statement to add: “Instead of playing games by disseminating false information, it would be more productive for IBEW to engage in productive bargaining so that its members can return to work under the terms of a fair contract.”

In the letter, Burrows says that two NBC10 cameramen tried to get access to the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Saturday night for a World Meeting of Families event and that security did not let them in, since they did not have the proper credentials. He goes on to say that the cameramen appealed to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for assistance, but the Archdiocese wouldn’t help.

Eventually and “inexplicably,” writes Burrows, the cameramen did gain access to the event and filmed it. IBEW claims that it has “significant reason” to believe that NBC10 station management provided the replacement cameramen with credentials that had been issued to the station for the original cameramen, now on strike.

Burrows says that, if true, the station and the cameramen committed identity theft and that they are “guilty of a serious security breach.” He adds that “this sort of reckless and irresponsible behavior is typical of the arrogance and disregard for the rules displayed by NBC 10 (a subsidiary of Comcast).”

On Saturday morning, as the city awaited the arrival of Pope Francis and hours before the alleged security breach at the Convention Center, Philadelphia magazine received a tip from a well-known local news personality, alleging the same kind of activity.

“NBC 10 has fill in photographers,” said the source. “They are all using fake IDs. One guy has Anzio’s ID,” referring to NBC10 news director Anzio Williams. “We’re waiting in security lines. They are frauds.”

Neither Comcast nor the Archdiocese have responded to a request for comment, and Williams was not immediately available.

The full letter appears below.

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