WGA East Members at Hearst Magazines Ratify Landmark First Union Contract
NEW YORK, NY (May 18, 2023) – Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) members at Hearst Magazines, a globally recognized media brand, have overwhelmingly ratified a groundbreaking collective bargaining agreement.
After more than two years of negotiations, the ratification brings to a close the campaign for a first union contract with the infamously anti-union media conglomerate.
The more than two-year fight to win a fair first contract included multiple Unfair Labor Practice charges filed against Hearst, worker-led walkouts at Hearst offices in New York, NY, Easton, PA, Ann Arbor, MI, and Birmingham, AL, a rally in front of Hearst Tower attended by hundreds of people, and a petition signed by hundreds of WGA East and WGA West members, among other actions taken by the unit.
The new contract includes a major increase in salary minimums across all job titles, bringing the Hearst Union in-line with the industry standards set by the Guild. The new NYC/CA minimum salary level for the lowest tiered staff will go up $15,000, increasing the base pay from $45,000 to $60,000 for some employees. The 550-member bargaining unit of writers, producers, and editors across Hearst’s 28 brands will further be guaranteed annual wage increases under the new agreement.
Additional highlights from the contract include:
- Locked in 401(k) matching at the same rate for the length of the contract.
- 4 weeks minimum severance for all employees regardless of tenure + 2 weeks notice or pay in lieu of notice (for a total of 6 weeks minimum), OR 2 weeks severance for every year worked at company plus notice pay, whichever is higher;
- Hearst cannot terminate a bargaining unit member without sufficient cause
- Laid off employees who apply for another job at Hearst will be guaranteed an interview for up to 6 months after the layoff;
- Established an Equity Committee co-chaired by management and union members, to be funded $25,000 annually;
- Established contractual protections for current time off, family leave;
- Established contractual protection against discrimination in the workplace;
- Established anti-harassment accountability measures;
- The Company must inform the union of changes in the in-office/remote work policy with at least 30 days advance notice and give opportunity to bargain;
- Eliminated mandatory arbitration for harassment cases, as well as non-competes
In a statement, The Hearst Magazines Union Bargaining Committee wrote “The Hearst Magazines Union Bargaining Committee is thrilled to report we have officially ratified our first collective bargaining agreement with an overwhelming majority of our 560-member unit voting to ratify. This contract will establish and codify many important workplace benefits and protections, including industry-standard wage floors, minimum guaranteed annual wage increases, just cause, gender-neutral bathrooms, a path to reporting discrimination, and a diversity committee to help hold the company accountable to more equitable hiring practices. After spending over two years at the bargaining table, we’re looking forward to working under the new reality of our unionized workplace.”
Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East, said, “The WGAE continues to build power for professional writers. The Hearst contract is a prime example of what can be achieved through collective action. And as the Hearst contract demonstrates, the WGA East is a union ready to fight for a strong union contract. This includes our members in film and television who are currently on strike until they can get a fair deal from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. We have recently won contracts and union recognition in our Freelance/TV/Streaming sector in nonfiction TV and podcasting, and we are building power in our Broadcast/Cable Streaming News sector at MSNBC and CBSN. We are one union, standing together.”
The 560-member bargaining unit at Hearst Magazines includes editorial, video, design, photo, and social staff across 28 brands—Autoweek, Best Products, Bicycling, Car and Driver, Cosmopolitan, Country Living, Delish, ELLE, ELLE Decor, Esquire, Food Network Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s Bazaar, HGTV Magazine, House Beautiful, Marie Claire, Men’s Health, O The Oprah Magazine, Popular Mechanics, Prevention, Road & Track, Runner’s World, Seventeen, The Pioneer Woman, Town & Country, Veranda, Woman’s Day, Women’s Health.
In addition to Hearst Magazines, the Writers Guild of America, East’s Online Media Sector includes BDG, Chalkbeat, Committee to Protect Journalists, Fast Company, FT Specialist, Future PLC, Gizmodo Media Group, Hearst Magazines, HuffPost, Inc., Jewish Currents, NowThis, Onion Inc., Refinery29, Salon, Slate, Talking Points Media, The Dodo, The Intercept, Thrillist, VICE, and Vox Media.
ABOUT THE WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA, EAST
The Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO (WGAE) is a labor union representing writers in film, television, broadcast and streaming news, podcasts, and online 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.