New Yorker Staff Stages Protest Outside Anna Wintour’s Townhouse

From a New York Times story by Katie Robertson and Rachel Abrams headlined “New Yorker Employees Stage Protest Outside Anna Wintour’s Townhouse”:

On Monday morning, union employees at The New Yorker unveiled a website that included their demands for higher pay and better job security, as well as the statement that they were “on the verge of a strike.”

On Tuesday evening, the employees marched from the campus of New York University to the nearby Greenwich Village home of Anna Wintour, the fashion icon, magazine editor, publishing executive and Manhattan power player who has become a symbol of Condé Nast, the corporate home of The New Yorker.

“Bosses wear Prada, workers get nada!” they chanted.

There were about 100 protesters, many of them fact checkers or editorial staff members who belong to The New Yorker Union, a group that started three years ago and is affiliated with the NewsGuild of New York.

The demonstrators included employees from two other Condé Nast publications with union representation — the digital publications Ars Technica and Pitchfork.

A few police officers looked on as the protesters marched in a loop outside Ms. Wintour’s darkened townhouse….They carried signs that said, “You can’t eat prestige” and “Fair pay now” in The New Yorker’s distinctive typeface.

Genevieve Bormes, an associate covers editor at The New Yorker, said she made $53,000 annually after working at the magazine for more than five years. Her salary was $33,000 when she started in 2016, she said, adding that the wages offered by the magazine favored workers who had a financial cushion.

“People from a range of backgrounds can’t afford to work there,” Ms. Bormes said.

The protest was a sharp escalation in The New Yorker employees’ two-year fight with Condé Nast over wages, health care benefits and work-life issues.

The company had tried to stave it off in a Monday night email to union employees that said, “Targeting an individual’s private home and publicly sharing its location is not acceptable.” The union replied with a an email accusing the company of “what looks like an unlawful attempt to discourage protected concerted activity.”…

Some New Yorker workers make as little as $42,000 a year, according to the union. The union is seeking a base salary of $60,000 for its members.

In recent bargaining talks, the company offered a floor of $54,500, according to Natalie Meade, a fact checker and chair of the NewsGuild’s unit at the magazine….

Many New Yorker staff writers, including some of the magazine’s high-profile contributors, are considered freelancers and do not qualify to unionize under federal labor law. In the event of a strike, the union has asked all New Yorker contributors not to file articles or do other work for the magazine.

Shirley Nwangwa, a fact checker at The New Yorker since January, said of her colleagues: “They are able somehow to preserve their brilliance, despite the fact they are not making much money in one of the most expensive cities in the world.”…

Ms. Wintour’s authority has been challenged by rank-and-file employees and some colleagues since last spring, but that has not stopped her ascent.

A Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire since 2017, and someone who was celebrated and satirized by Meryl Streep in the 2006 film “The Devil Wears Prada,” Ms. Wintour started at Condé Nast as the editor of the American edition of Vogue more than three decades ago, back when print magazines and London-trained editors were all the rage.

She was named the artistic director of Condé Nast in 2013 and the company’s global content adviser in 2019. At the end of 2020, she was made worldwide chief content officer and global editorial director, a position that gave her the last word over Condé Nast publications, which also include Vanity Fair, in more than 30 markets outside the United States.

There is one Condé Nast publication that Ms. Wintour does not oversee: The New Yorker, which the author and editor David Remnick has led since 1998….

The protest was the most dramatic Condé Nast job action since members of the New Yorker’s staff walked off the job for one day in January. In September, when staff members refused to work at the annual New Yorker Festival, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pulled out of their schedule appearances in solidarity with them….

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

Rachel Abrams is a media reporter for The New York Times. She was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for public service for reporting that exposed sexual harassment and misconduct.

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