Fast Company is the latest magazine newsroom to officially unionize.
Leadership of the title, part of Mansueto Ventures, owned by billionaire Joe Mansueto, who heads the investment firm Morningstar, voluntarily recognized a group of 32 staffers as a collective bargaining unit. The group is made up of nonmanagement editorial staff and the photo department.
Lowell Peterson, executive director of Writers Guild of America East, said the unionization of Fast Company is just another part of the more recent “movement for collective bargaining in digital media.”
“Unionizing and negotiating will give these hardworking employees a meaningful voice in the decisions that affect their work lives,” Peterson added.
Eric Schurenberg, chief executive officer of Mansueto, sent a memo to Fast Company staff yesterday evening, making note of a “series of positive conversations” with editorial management, including editor in chief Stephanie Mehta, and WGE in leading to voluntary recognition.
“We are pleased to have this phase of negotiations behind us and we look forward to joining with our colleagues in the union to continue our mission together: to inspire, inform and delight Fast Company readers and do justice to this proud brand,” Schurenberg said.
The staff only went public with their unionization about six weeks ago, the same time as The New Yorker staff, whose bargaining unit, working with NewsGuild of New York, was also voluntarily recognized earlier this month.
“We love Fast Company and want to help work toward preserving its best aspects during a tumultuous time in digital media,” Fast Company’s organizing staff wrote in its first statement. “By organizing, we want to make sure that our voices are part of the major decisions required to navigate this industry.”
Fast Company and The New Yorker staff also cited similar concerns in the push to organize, like fair pay, benefits, severance and employee classification as the magazine changes. Both magazines are the first unions in their respective companies, something that’s a little more impressive at Condé Nast, which has nearly two-dozen titles.
But both unionization efforts come at a time when staffers at media companies have increasingly turned to collective bargaining. In just the past few years, a string of media outlets have unionized, including The Los Angeles Times, Vox Media, Thrillist, Huffington Post, Gawker Media (now Gizmodo Media Group, which is again up for sale), Vice Media, Salon Media, Mic, ThinkProgress and The Guardian U.S.
It’s not exactly surprising considering that editorial workers would reach to any kind of protection they have, given the broader changes in media, led by the massive consumer shift away from print, which has resulted in countless layoffs, consolidations and outright closures at newspapers and magazines over recent years. While a union is no guarantee of security, as layoffs are still frequent in organized newsrooms, it does give workers a say in how a company goes about changes.
“This process was galvanizing for our entire unit and the company as a whole,” the Fast Company bargaining group wrote in a statement. “We look forward to bargaining for a contract that will represent all of us and make our company stronger.”
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