The Atlantic magazine covers

Unionization is showing no sign of slowing down in 2021.

The Atlantic is the latest media outlet to have their staffers form a union, with 80 percent of staff writers, copy editors, fact checkers, editors, art directors, engineers and producers at the magazine signing cards in favor of The Atlantic Union, part of the NewsGuild of New York. It also represents the likes of The New Yorker, Wired, The New York Times and Reuters.

In its mission statement, the new union stressed that it has faith in the outlet’s leadership, but in a time of upheaval in the media industry it wants to ensure that all staffers are justly rewarded for their work and free to speak their mind on matters of concern.

“For 163 years, The Atlantic has been an indispensable voice, and we want to keep it strong for the next 163 years by ensuring fairness and protection for the staff,” said staff writer David A. Graham. “Our supporters include some of our longest-tenured staffers and newest colleagues, from the entry level to veteran stars. We hope management will recognize us quickly so we can get to work negotiating a fair contract.”

His wish came true in a matter of hours as unlike some other media companies, including Hearst Magazines, The Atlantic quickly moved to voluntarily recognize the union.

The Atlantic’s editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg made the announcement in a note to staffers: “We all love The Atlantic, and we all take seriously our responsibility to be careful stewards of this great institution,” he said. “I couldn’t agree more with an idea expressed in the statement from union organizers that we just received: The indispensable mission of The Atlantic is to illuminate ‘the complexity of the modern world with clarity and modesty’ and to provide readers ‘with a forum for civil disagreement in an era of acrimony.’”

While 163-year-old publication appeared to hoover up new subscribers during the pandemic, adding around 90,000 between March and May of last year, it was not enough to make up for the drop in advertising and lack of live events. That resulted in the company reducing its headcount by 68 people, or 17 percent of its staff in May 2020, saying in a memo that it’s part of a “reset of our business strategy in response to the current economic climate.”

 

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