Condé Nast staffers at titles such as Vogue, Vanity Fair and Allure have announced their intention to form a union, demanding voluntary recognition from management.
The bargaining unit is made up of full- and part-time editorial, video and production workers at all its editorial brands, which also include Architectural Digest, Bon Appétit, Condé Nast Traveler, Epicurious, Glamour, GQ, Self, Teen Vogue and Them, as well as Condé Nast Entertainment. Once certified, it will be one of the largest units in recent NewsGuild history.
The announcement follows a wave of unions organizing at a host of Condé Nast brands, beginning in 2018 with The New Yorker. In March 2019, they were joined by Ars Technica and Pitchfork, and in April 2020 by Wired.
“The current workplace culture at Condé Nast allows many people of color and women to be consistently silenced by management. It’s no longer enough to play-act a commitment to diversity, or apply Band-Aid solutions to issues of discrimination,” said Kaylee Hammonds of Epicurious. “We’re unionizing today across the company so that this hypocrisy that currently thrives at Condé Nast can be remedied.”
In addition to a strong commitment to staff diversity, workers in the union are calling for more job security, higher pay, clearer paths to job advancement and more workplace transparency.
“Condé constantly promises more transparency around pay and career development, but despite lackluster pay-equity studies that are largely kept private, people can still make less than a living wage and may never see a raise or promotion in their tenure here,” added Elise Portale of Architectural Digest. “Every day, they throw more responsibilities and tasks our way, but when the conversation turns to compensation or growth, management consistently finds ways to move the goalposts. We have no say in what we do, where we work and what we get paid, and no recourse to change it. But that will no longer be the case.”
Staffers at Hearst Magazines, whose titles include Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and Esquire, announced their intention to unionize just before the pandemic began, with execs refusing to voluntarily recognize their efforts, leaving the decision to the National Labor Relations Board. After many months, it eventually gave Hearst staffers the green light.
Susan DeCarava, president of The NewsGuild of New York, said: “Workers at Condé Nast have organized hundreds of their colleagues with one shared goal: to raise standards and fight for better working terms and conditions. This is an opportunity for Condé Nast management to work more collaboratively with employees and be held accountable in addressing long-standing concerns about equity, inclusion, fairness and diversity. I’m excited to welcome these workers into the Guild and proud to join them in their fight to improve their workplace.”
Sara Ziff, founder and executive director of the Model Alliance, added: “From the models and creatives in our community to the staffers at Condé Nast making this industry run, we’ve all been treated as if exposure and prestige are meant to suffice as a form of payment. Fashion is work — whether you’re walking down the runway or writing about it in Vogue. That’s why the Model Alliance introduced the Fashion Workers Act on Friday, and it’s why we 100 percent support the Condé Nast Union, and urge management to acknowledge and meet their demands now.”
A representative for Condé Nast said: “Today we were informed that some members of our Condé Nast teams are intending to form a union. We plan to have productive and thoughtful conversations with them over the coming weeks to learn more.”
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