Hearst Tower

Hundreds of Hearst Magazines staffers will get their election eight months after revealing their goal of unionizing.

Staffers will be able to vote by mail, with ballots being sent out on June 12 as most employees work from home during the coronavirus pandemic, the Hearst Magazines Union said on Instagram Friday. The deadline to send them back is July 13.

This comes after Hearst executives gave the green light to staffers to vote from home. Some other media outlets have blocked their staffers from doing so.

Management had initially declined to voluntarily recognize a union, which meant the National Labor Relations Board had to get involved. Hearst’s lawyers then contended the bargaining unit should be split into six smaller units and claimed that some employees were supervisors and, therefore, shouldn’t be part of the vote. The NLRB ruled that the bargaining unit shouldn’t be split up and all employees ere eligible to take part in a vote.

A number of staffers at the likes of Vice Media, BuzzFeed, NBC Digital, Fortune Digital and Vox Media became unionized over the past few years during a particularly rough period of layoffs across the industry. But almost all of those organizations have cut jobs in recent months as COVID-19 sparks a sharp downturn in advertising and other revenue even as engagement and readership has increased.

In the case of Hearst employees, they hope that unionizing with the Writers Guild of America, East will help them address diversity, transparency, compensation and overall editorial standards. They also claim it would provide them some sense of security over layoff notices and severance pay as part of collective bargaining agreements.

To date, even without a union, Hearst has not made any coronavirus-related layoffs or cut pay. Its rival, Condé Nast, is on its second round of cuts, laying off 100 staffers and furloughing a similar amount. InStyle owner Meredith Corp. has also implemented paycuts for 60 percent of staff.


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