Condé Nast workers win company-wide union recognition

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Condé Nast employees secured union recognition for their company on Friday, making workers from iconic and glossy titles such as Vogue and GQ the latest to join a wave of union organizing in the media industry.

Staff members went public with their work organization effort in March, saying they needed to form a union to get better pay amid increased workloads. Hundreds of them signed a letter to Condé Nast executives asking for voluntary recognition. The two sides have since negotiated the scope of who would be covered by the union, which is affiliated with New York’s NewsGuild.

The Condé Nast union includes more than 500 U.S.-based employees: the majority of editorial, production and video workers at 11 publications, including Vanity Fair, Bon Appétit, Allure Architectural Digest and Condé Nast Entertainment, the company’s in-house production studio.

According to the NewsGuild, nearly 80% of eligible employees submitted union cards on Friday as part of a “card verification.” The informal process, accepted by Condé Nast, allows employees to form a union without having ask the Federal Labor Relations Board to hold an election, which can be a longer process.

The company and those workers will now begin to negotiate terms of employment, which could include everything from wages to benefits. Four other publications previously syndicated to Condé.

“After productive conversations with the NewsGuild over the past few months, we have agreed to voluntarily recognize four new editorial and business units,” a Condé Nast spokesperson said in a statement Friday. “We look forward to working together on our collective bargaining agreements following successful contracts with The New Yorker, Ars Technica and Pitchfork unions and the ongoing contract with WIRED.

The union also covers around 100 contractors – called “permalancers” by some – who have become more common in digital media, often working without the benefits or job stability given to regular employees. Their inclusion in the Condé Nast union was a major demand of union organizers.

“I’ve seen a few times where you’ll have a co-worker you’ve worked with for a long time – maybe over a year – and then you find out you’re staff and they’re not, and he’s not. doesn’t make sense because they have the same roles and responsibilities,” said Condé Nast Entertainment cameraman Ben Dewey. “It’s surprising that they don’t have the same protections as you do.”

“Many of our issues exist in our industry and we hope other companies and workplaces take note,” Jess Lane, a contractor with Condé Nast Entertainment, said in a statement.

Extensive efforts to unionize in the media industry come during a tumultuous period of layoffs, pay cuts and corporate consolidation. More than 200 labor campaigns have been launched in media publications over the past decade, according to a Poynter Institute report. Since the start of the pandemic, journalists and other workers at the Atlantic and Politico have unions formed who have been voluntarily recognized by their management.

The four Condé Nast titles, including The New Yorker, that had previously successfully syndicated under New York’s NewsGuild remain separate organizations.

Not all labor organizations have been so easily received by media companies. New York Times tech workers had to hold a federal election unionize earlier this year after The Times refused to voluntarily recognize their union. The Hearst Magazine union had to do the same in 2020. Eligible employees at both companies voted overwhelmingly to unionize.

At Condé Nast, the union campaign was preceded by a period of upheaval. In 2020, Bon Appétit’s editor-in-chief resigned after allegations of discrimination and a photo of him wearing “brownface” surfaced, and several of his color video stars left.

The New Yorker’s fact-checkers, copy editors and web producers waged a very public, at times heated, contract negotiation campaign for more than two years that included strike threats, celebrity endorsements and protests. . The company and the New Yorker Union finally reached a deal last year that would raise the minimum wage from $42,000 to $60,000 by 2023. At the time, Condé Nast said it had already worked to establish such company-wide standards.

The New Yorker Union’s rallying cry – ‘prestige doesn’t pay the bills’ – then inspired the broader effort to organize work at Condé Nast, as employees said they faced loads ever-increasing workloads and stagnant wages while living in one of the most expensive neighborhoods. cities in the country.

On Friday, union organizers celebrated their victory. “Condé Nast’s legendary publications would be nowhere without the hard-working employees who work day in and day out,” NewsGuild of New York president Susan DeCarava said in a statement. “We are so proud to fight side by side with our new members to ensure they get the strongest contract possible.”

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