WWD Digital Daily

Hearst Staffers Unionize


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,

O, the 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-oflife 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. — KATHRYN HOPKINS

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