Hearst Magazines Unionizes with WGA East
NEW YORK, NY (November 11, 2019)—Hearst Magazines’ editorial, video, design, photo, and social staff across 24 digital / print brands today announced it has unionized with the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE). A strong majority of the 500-member staff has signed union cards.
“The staff at Hearst has demonstrated today that there is always power in a union,” said Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East. “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. We are proud and pleased to build the movement for collective bargaining for the professional storytellers at Hearst. Unionizing, winning recognition, bargaining contracts, this is how people who craft content ensure that their voices are heard and their workplace needs are met.”
In addition to Hearst Magazines, the WGAE represents newsrooms at The Dodo, Fast Company, Gizmodo Media Group, HuffPost, Intercept, MTV News, Onion Inc., Refinery29, Salon, Slate, Talking Points Memo, ThinkProgress, Thrillist, VICE, and Vox Media. The WGAE now represents nearly 6,000 writers in film, television, news and new media.
The WGAE’s Hearst Magazines Organizing Committee issued the following “Why We’re Organizing” letter:
Hearst Magazines’ editorial, video, design, photo, and social staff across 24 brands—Autoweek, Best Products, Bicycling, Car & Driver, Cosmopolitan, Country Living, Delish, Elle, Elle Decor, Esquire, Fashion hub, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s Bazaar, House Beautiful, Marie Claire, Men’s Health, The Oprah Magazine, Popular Mechanics, Prevention, Road & Track, Runner’s World, Seventeen, Town & Country, Veranda, Woman’s Day, Women’s Health—are proud to announce that we are unionizing with the Writers Guild of America, East. The Hearst company and its brands have a storied legacy stretching back to the golden age of journalism—a tradition we are proud to continue today as creative employees at the company. Hearst has always been quick to adapt to new mediums and changes in the industry, allowing the company and its brands to thrive in even the most uncertain of times. We believe the most logical path to ensure Hearst’s continued excellence and leading position in the industry is to unionize to form a more equitable workplace, especially as our peers at other companies have made this common practice.
Hearst is one of the largest editorial employers in the industry, and media’s rapidly changing landscape means it’s more important than ever for us to have a say in the conditions of our 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.
Our 24 brands represent every facet of contemporary culture, and we believe employees at Hearst should reflect the diversity of the world at large. The Hearst Magazine Media Union demands that the company make concrete strides to form a truly inclusive and fair workplace. 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.
Organizing has become common in our industry. In forming a union, we’ll be joining our colleagues across the industry at Vox Media, NY Magazine, Slate and countless others. It has become standard for companies to recognize employee unions through a fair voluntary recognition process—like a card check—including at peer companies like Condé Nast, other magazines like Fast Company, and large legacy news organizations like CBS, and we expect Hearst Magazines to do the same. We hope to achieve the same rights as those employees to collectively bargain for a more equitable workplace, so that we can continue to produce the best content possible, and carry Hearst forward as a standard of integrity, character, honesty, and fairness within the media landscape.
In forming a union, we will address these issues:
We are made of many brands, but as a union we are coming together as one to advance all employee interests. We want Hearst to represent all voices and perspectives of both its employees and the world at large with regard to race and ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic background, age, immigration status, and disability. We want Hearst to focus on diversity and inclusion in recruiting, hiring, promoting, leadership decision-making, and addressing issues within the company itself if and when they arise. Our goal is to be a leader in the industry and set universal standards.
We want insight into the decisions that affect the business structures of our companies, our positions, and our workloads. We also demand clear management structures and organizational charts for each team. We want to see fair and consistent job titles and duties, transparent scheduling, and wage tiers and a mechanism for annual reviews in order to ensure a clear path for advancement within the company.
Hearst’s compensation packages should match the sterling reputation of its brands. 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-of-life matters like fair parental leave and affordable healthcare. Since we work in a creative industry that demands nontraditional schedules, we want a clear policy for comp time. Since our roles as representatives of Hearst’s brands can also provide us with a unique platform, we demand a clearer policy regarding intellectual property rights and credit for the use of our image.
Above all, we want to produce the highest-quality work. We hope to propel the standards of the industry forward while ensuring the integrity of the company’s values, from a clear division between editorial and advertising to a transparent e-commerce strategy.
ABOUT WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA, EAST
The Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO (WGAE) is a labor union representing writers in film, television, news and new media. The Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members; conducts programs, seminars and events on issues of interest to writers; and presents writers’ views to various bodies of government. For more information on the Writers Guild of America, East, visit wgaeast.org.