Hearst Magazines’ workers are unionizing.
Following in the footsteps of a number of other media organizations, editorial, video, design, photo, and social staff across 24 of New York-based Hearst’s digital and print brands today announced they have unionized with the Writers Guild of America, East.
The brands include Elle, Elle Decor, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Oprah Magazine and Men’s Health and with a “strong majority” of the 500-member staff signing up, the new union will be one of media’s biggest.
Of the decision to unionize, the WGAE’s Hearst Magazines Organizing Committee explained in an open letter that media’s rapidly changing landscape means it’s more important than ever for staff to have a say in the conditions of their employment.
“We care deeply about the work we do at Hearst and its reputation within the media industry, and we believe we deserve a seat at the table and a say in how we are compensated and treated in the workplace,” it said.
“The only way to drive the company culture forward, continue as a leader within the media industry, and make the brands stronger collectively and separately is to consolidate our interests into one strong, collective voice,” it added.
A combination of mass layoffs and media mergers have led to a resurgence in unionization in the industry over the past few years. In addition to Hearst Magazines, the WGAE represents newsrooms at Fast Company, Refinery29, Salon, Slate, Thrillist, Vice and Vox Media among others.
The idea is that with the support of unions like the WGAE, staffers have some sense of security with things like layoff notices, and severance pay nearly always worked into collective bargaining agreements.
In forming their union, Hearst Magazine’s staffers plan to address diversity, transparency, compensation and overall editorial standards.
“Hearst’s compensation packages should match the sterling reputation of its brands,” the letter said. “We demand competitive salaries with mechanisms for raises for both service-rendered achievements and cost-of-living increases, along with equal pay and policies for quality-of-life matters like fair parental leave and affordable health care.”
Lowell Peterson, executive director of the WGAE, added: “Hearst’s union drive comes as the media industry continues to consolidate, as companies become platform-agnostic and offer content on paper, over the airwaves, and online.”
A spokesperson for Hearst did not immediately respond to request for comment.
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