Editorial staffers at The New Yorker and Fast Company are organizing, asking management to voluntarily recognize their respective unions in letters made public today.
The Conde Nast magazine’s unionization with NewsGuild comes as its parent company has slashed costs and reoriented its titles away from their print products. Fast Company, meanwhile, is organizing with the Writers Guild of America East—the union that represents editorial staffers at Splinter and its parent company, Gizmodo Media Group. I’ve reached out to representatives for both publications to ask if they will voluntarily recognize the unions and will update this post if I hear back.
Journalists across print and digital media have unionized in recent years as the industry’s business prospects have dimmed, with varying degrees of pushback from management. Some recently unionized shops include:
- The Chicago Tribune
- The Los Angeles Times
- The New Republic
- Vox Media
- Vice Media video staffers
A union would be particularly notable at The New Yorker, as the prestige that comes with working for such publications is often used by both staffers and management to justify lower pay and benefits. New York magazine, which broke the news Wednesday, also included this interesting bit about the proposed bargaining unit (emphasis mine):
The group includes copy editors, web producers, fact checkers, photo and design staff, the social-media and publicity teams, editorial assistants, and assistant editors. Management and senior-level employees are excluded, as are staff writers, whose job title would not escape the red pen of the magazine’s fact department: Writers at The New Yorker are nearly all independent contractors, rather than staff, and thus do not receive health care or other benefits, despite being largely prevented from writing for other outlets.
I repeat: Top writers at the most writerly publication there is—which has recently seen a subscription bump and brought on a bunch of new talent—don’t get employer-sponsored healthcare. What a world!