At Condé Nast Magazines, Workers Form a Union

From a New York Times story by Katie Robertson headlined “Condé Nast workers form a companywide union”:

Hundreds of workers at the publishing giant Condé Nast, which owns titles like Vogue, Vanity Fair, Bon Appétit and GQ, announced that they had formed a companywide union. The Condé Nast Union is affiliated with the NewsGuild of New York, which also represents editorial employees at The New York Times as well as other publications.

The union will cover more than 500 employees from all of Condé Nast’s brands, except for those from Ars Technica, Pitchfork, Wired and The New Yorker, which unionized separately with the NewsGuild in recent years. In a statement shared through the NewsGuild, the union said it had asked Condé Nast management for voluntary recognition.

“We plan to have productive and thoughtful conversations with them over the coming weeks to learn more,” a Condé Nast spokesman said. The company has voluntarily recognized the four existing unions.

The employees in the newly formed Condé Nast union, including editorial, video and production staff, said in a statement that they were pushing for better pay, increased job security, and a stronger commitment to diversity and equity.

Condé Nast has faced waves of internal turmoil in the past two years over the treatment of employees of color and the low wages of some workers. The Times first reported on the companywide organizing effort in December.

In 2021, tensions over contract negotiation talks for The New Yorker Union led to a vote by employees to authorize a strike and a protest in front of the Greenwich Village townhouse of Anna Wintour, Condé Nast’s global chief content officer and the editor of Vogue. The union reached a deal in June.

In 2020, Ms. Wintour and Roger Lynch, the chief executive, apologized to staff members for racial inequities at the company after a cultural reckoning in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis. Employees complained about racial inequality inside the company, and a top editor at Bon Appétit resigned after the emergence of an old photo of him wearing a racially insensitive costume.

“There is no viable ‘future’ of Condé Nast if women and people of color continue to be used to fill a diversity quota,” Cortni Spearman, a senior social media manager at Glamour and a member of the new Condé Nast Union, said on Tuesday.

Katie Robertson is a media reporter. She previously worked as an editor and reporter at Bloomberg and News Corporation Australia.
Also see the Washington Post story by Elahe Izadi headlined “Vogue, Bon Appétit and other Condé Nast staffers form union.”The opening grafs:

For years, employees at Condé Nast — the influential publisher of glossy titles such as Vogue, Vanity Fair and GQ — have been trading notes with each other about their increasing workloads and what they discovered to be differing salaries.

On Tuesday, these conversations culminated in a letter to Condé managers signed by more than 350 employees requesting the company voluntarily recognize their union, which would organize under the NewsGuild of New York.

The union would cover more than 500 editorial, production video workers across 11 publications, including Bon Appétit, Architectural Digest and Allure. Those leading the effort say nearly 80 percent of eligible workers have indicated support.

In an emailed statement a few hours after the letter was delivered, Condé spokesman Patrick Maks said the company plans “to have productive and thoughtful conversations with [the unionizing workers] over the coming weeks to learn more.”

They are modeling their effort after a successful unionization campaign at one of Condé’s most prestigious titles, the New Yorker, which waged a high-profile campaign for a contract that included protests, celebrity endorsers and a strike threat.

In that case, New Yorker union members argued that the magazine’s elite reputation contrasted with the reality of rank-and-file employees earning as little as $42,000 a year. The two sides eventually agreed to a contract that would raise the salary minimum to $60,000 by 2023; Condé said at the time the agreement reflected standards they hadalready been working to establish companywide.

The very public campaign helped underscore a message that aggrieved employees have been trying to get across: that the stereotype of the well-paid fashion magazine staffer who moves around Manhattan in a Town Car is a mirage, a thing of the past….

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