Forbes Union Mission Statement
Roughly a century ago, B.C. Forbes, who founded Forbes Magazine just before the 1918 pandemic, wrote: “It is when things go hardest, when life becomes most trying, that there is the greatest need for having a fixed goal.”
In 2021, we, the journalists at Forbes, find ourselves at another inflection point. We are proud of our role in covering entrepreneurs, systematically tracking wealth in the deepest corners of the world and investigating the most powerful people in our society. Yet we recognize that in order to tell these stories, we must also look critically at our home, which we believe should and can do better for its employees. That is why we have decided to organize with the NewsGuild of New York, joining our peers such as Fortune Magazine, Reuters and The New Yorker.
Forbes has an immensely talented staff of reporters, editors, designers, videographers and social media editors who work around the clock to make our newsroom a leading business voice. We want our publication to outlive us, as it has past generations of incredible journalists who covered trailblazers. This goal requires us to take action, especially at a time when journalism is struggling across the country.
Many of us have no job security, receive no overtime pay and our requests for raises largely go unheard. Job requirements tend to change without warning, and salaries often vary between people who hold the same position. We are also being left out of major editorial decisions. We want a clearer distinction between editorial and business activities, with mechanisms to hold management and ourselves accountable for upholding high journalistic standards.
Our current top-down structure restricts our ability to be inclusive and allows exploitative labor practices. We want a better balance of power and, most importantly, we want our passion for journalism to drive us instead of the fear of losing our jobs. The unhealthy work culture takes labor for granted, shows a clear lack of interest in retaining talent—from ambitious, entry-level journalists to more experienced veterans—and perpetuates a lack of diversity in the newsroom.
While management celebrates its actions toward creating a more diverse workplace, nearly a dozen people of color have left the editorial staff since 2017. By unionizing, we want to address diversity within our newsroom without fear of retaliation. Forbes needs a measurable action plan to help improve newsroom diversity for all position levels and a committee that holds management accountable.
We know a union is the best way for our newsroom to build its voice and address all these issues and more. We have seen how other newsrooms that have recently unionized have won pay increases, job security, diversity improvements and strengthened editorial standards. Everything we are demanding is already in line with Forbes’ values: integrity, innovation and respect. The real risk to Forbes would be failing to evolve and meet the needs of its workforce. We want to remain agile and competitive while producing needle-moving journalism, because we want to make Forbes the best it can be. A union will help bring our company into the future and provide a stable and secure workplace that more equitably rewards our hard work.
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