Atlantic Magazine Journalists Mount Union Drive

From a post on headlined “Atlantic Employees Mount Union Drive”:

The NewsGuild of New York is organizing editorial employees at the D.C.-based Atlantic magazine.

Two Atlantic journalists tell us they believe they have the numbers necessary to join the NewsGuild, the union known for its left-wing politics that is also organizing media workers at Forbes and on Gannett’s digital team.

But not all Atlantic employees want to be next. The push to unionize has been greeted with skepticism from some members of the magazine’s old guard, which is wary of the Manhattan-based guild and concerned that it could chase away the Atlantic’s deep-pocketed owner, Laurene Powell Jobs, the billionaire widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

They point out that the Atlantic still operates at a loss, despite some recent success with a subscriber paywall.

The union drive is being powered by the magazine’s younger, more liberal staffers, frustrated with low pay and haunted by pandemic layoffs last spring when the Atlantic sacked almost a fifth of its employees.

The compensation floor for writers and editorial staff is $60,000, according to an Atlantic employee. Another staffer said that in addition to health care, employees receive 20 weeks of paid parental leave and a flexible time off policy.

Organizers downplayed any dissension in the ranks. “Asserting there’s a divide of this type is a standard media union-busting talking point,” said one Atlantic staffer.

As the union effort has gained momentum, several old-guard skeptics have come around and even signed onto an internal letter supporting the union. We’re told that Jeff Goldberg, the magazine’s editor, has given up an initial attempt to stop the union, assuming that it’s a fait accompli.

“People who don’t realize how good they have it want it better, and this is the best they’ve come up with,” one Atlantic writer said. “But some of the top editors who have left many in the newsroom feeling like they’re not paying attention have brought this on themselves.”

As union organizers prepare to formally announce their demands to management, new Atlantic CEO Nicholas Thompson, a former writer and editor widely respected in media circles, has attempted to preemptively respond to some of the concerns. On Friday, in an email to staff, he announced new compensation tiers for each department, “with the goal of ensuring greater equity within the organization.”

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