The New Yorker’s editorial staff members said Wednesday that they had formed a union, adding the magazine to a growing list of publications, old and new, whose employees have turned to collective bargaining during a tumultuous time for the industry.
The staff members said in a statement that the publication “must work harder for its employees,” citing a lack of job security, almost no overtime compensation and pay inconsistency. Many employees worked as contractors without health insurance and other benefits despite doing the same work as staff members, the union said.
Organizers said nearly 90 percent of the work force signed on to join the NewsGuild of New York, which represents thousands of employees at publications including The New York Times, The Associated Press, Thomson Reuters, The New Republic and The Daily Beast. About 115 employees are eligible, said Nastaran Mohit, the organizing director of the NewsGuild.
The New Yorker union described the move as necessary to ensure the magazine’s longevity, saying the weekly’s identity was “vulnerable to competing priorities from our corporate parent, Condé Nast.” The union asked for the parent company, which owns several of the nation’s top magazines, to voluntarily recognize it. A New Yorker spokeswoman deferred to a Condé Nast spokeswoman, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
Ms. Mohit said that organizers had not heard a response from management as of Wednesday afternoon, but noted the magazine had supported the labor movement and social justice in its pages.
“It would certainly be hypocritical for New Yorker management to fight its own employees’ efforts,” she said.
The union would include the company’s full-time and part-time editorial staff, including editors, fact checkers, designers, producers and social media strategists. While some staff writers are full time, the union would not include staff writers who are independent contractors.
The staff had “grown tired of inequities in our workplace,” Natalie Meade, a fact checker, said in a statement from the NewsGuild.
As part of its efforts, the fledgling union gave a new look to Eustace Tilley, the magazine’s top-hat-wearing icon. Instead of peering through a monocle, he’s seen raising a fist.
Staff members blitzed social media on Wednesday to rally support.
Many of the nation’s other top newsrooms, including The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, are already represented by unions. Tronc, a media company that owns several of the country’s biggest newspapers, agreed to recognize a union at The Chicago Tribune in May. In January, journalists at The Los Angeles Times, another Tronc newspaper, voted overwhelmingly to unionize despite aggressive opposition from management.
A flurry of digital publications have also joined unions, including HuffPost, Vox Media, Vice Media, Slate and Mic. On Wednesday, the staff at Fast Company also announced it would unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East.
Union drives have not always ended well. Joe Ricketts, the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade, suddenly shut down DNAinfo and Gothamist, two sites that covered local news in New York, after they voted to unionize in October. (Gothamist was later resurrected by WNYC.)
As for its decision, the New Yorker union said in the statement: “We are determined to do everything we can to protect the health and the integrity of our publication from staff cuts and reorganizations handed down by corporate management without warning or transparency.”
Courtesy of The New Yorker Union
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