The New Yorker vs. Its Union: “More than 100 staff members—including fact checkers and copy editors, but not the writers—formed a union.”

From a New York Times story by Katie Robertson headlined “Ocasio-Cortez and Warren Pull Out of New Yorker Festival”:

Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have pulled out of next week’s New Yorker Festival, the star-studded annual event held by The New Yorker magazine, in solidarity with unionized editorial staff members, who are planning a digital picket line.

Ms. Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat who made an unsuccessful bid to be her party’s presidential nominee, and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, were scheduled to appear as keynote speakers on Monday night, the first night of the annual event. The New Yorker Union had planned a one-night picket then, starting at 8.

In a letter last Thursday to the two politicians, the union asked them to reconsider their participation in light of its labor dispute with New Yorker management.

“The NewsGuild and The New Yorker Union are fighting for basic dignity on the job, and we stand with them,” Ms. Warren and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said. . . .

At the heart of the disagreement is a “just cause” proposal that The New Yorker Union wants in its contract. “Just cause” is a common provision in union contracts that gives a standard that must be met for an employer to discipline or fire employees.

Natalie Meade, a New Yorker editorial staffer and a unit chair of the union, said staff members felt they had no choice but to organize the Monday night picket.

“We don’t want to have to do these types of actions, but we feel like we have no voice because they are not hearing our pleas at the table,” she said.

Susan DeCarava, president of the NewsGuild of New York, which represents The New Yorker Union, said the planned appearances by Ms. Warren and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez seemed “deeply hypocritical,” given that the magazine champions progressive causes but has not reached an agreement with many of its workers.

“We couldn’t stomach it going forward without people knowing The New Yorker talks the talk, but it’s having problems walking the walk,” Ms. DeCarava said in an interview. . . .

In 2018, more than 100 New Yorker staff members — including fact checkers and copy editors, but not the magazine’s writers — announced that they were forming a union, part of a wave of organizing at media publications of all sizes. The New Yorker union was recognized by the magazine in July that year, but it has been unable to reach an agreement with management on a contract. . . .The New Yorker Festival

Because of the pandemic, The New Yorker Festival is being held online for the first time in its 21-year history. It will run Monday to Oct. 11. Scheduled guests include Fiona Apple, Margaret Atwood, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Ethan Hawke, Jerry Seinfeld and Yo-Yo Ma.

Katie Robertson is a media reporter. She previously worked as an editor and reporter at Bloomberg and News Corporation Australia

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