One Union at Meredith: The Organizing Mission Statements of Entertainment Weekly, Martha Stewart Living, Shape Magazine & PeopleTV
We stand together as proud employees of Meredith brands Entertainment Weekly, PeopleTV, Shape, and Martha Stewart Living in a historic move to request voluntary recognition of us joining our union colleagues at PEOPLE as one bargaining unit. Over the last four decades, we’ve collectively provided critical analysis and brought fresh perspectives to the worlds of pop culture, fitness, and lifestyle reporting. We love our publications because of their unique ability to provide unparalleled connections and exclusives from experts in our fields. We are proud of the opportunity to offer unmatched access, advice, and inspiration to our readers. We, the combined staffs of these publications, want to ensure the stellar work and continued success of these prestigious brands for years to come, while honoring and valuing the contributions of all employees equally. We feel the best way to do this is to organize with the NewsGuild of New York.
We are concerned about issues that affect all of our publications. Across the board, we are challenged by issues that place undue stress on us and challenge employment equity on our teams. Too many of our most basic needs like cost-of-living increases and affordable benefits come with daunting requirements contingent on practices like counter-offers and invasive wellness checklists. For too long, we have worked without adequate benefits or an appropriate work-life balance, and without guaranteed annual wage increases, compensation for overtime, wage transparency, adequate practices to ensure diversity and inclusion, sufficient editorial standards, and space to have our voices heard in the newsroom.
With the unpredictable impact of the coronavirus pandemic—a destabilizing force in an already turbulent industry—we feel even more heavily the weight of our vulnerable position and lack of avenues to advocate for ourselves. We are all invested in our jobs and the stories we help to tell, but we require a seat at the table to ensure a fairer workplace for all. We are committed to making our positions sustainable at our separate publications, and this is why we are following in the footsteps of our peers at outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, The Los Angeles Times and more to unionize with the NewsGuild as one united unit, including PEOPLE, PeopleTV, EW, Martha Stewart Living, and Shape.
We ask Meredith Corporation to recognize our union, and we look forward to joining in an amicable collective-bargaining process alongside our colleagues at PEOPLE in one collective Meredith union.
From the editorial staff of Entertainment Weekly:
We’re proud to work at Entertainment Weekly, a cultural institution that has covered the ins and outs of the entertainment industry for 30 years through in-depth reporting and insightful criticism. We want to secure this storied publication’s future as the premier source for pop culture fans everywhere. However, we’re concerned about increasing instability, inequality, and uncertainty within the organization.
In the last three years alone, the publication has experienced a cross-country move, a sudden shift to a monthly publication schedule, and decreased editorial independence—all without our input or foreknowledge. In addition, there have been multiple rounds of poorly handled and devastating layoffs. As journalists, we know we work in an unpredictable industry, and this year’s pandemic has brought even more uncertainty into our day-to-day lives. As a result, our workplace has become more stressful and less stable in a way that is no longer sustainable. It’s time to take action into our own hands by banding together and giving ourselves a voice in the newsroom. These changes are even more important now, as EW searches for a new editor-in-chief. We want to ensure that this leadership transition is a smooth one and that our voices are heard as we help build the brand's future.
We believe the best way to create a healthier and more secure workplace is to form a union. The work we do (both digital and print) involves writers, editors, video producers, photo editors, designers, fact-checkers, and social media editors, all collaborating to make EW as good as it can be. Yet the current organizational structure, with the digital and print teams separated in a way that is counterintuitive and counterproductive, doesn’t support how we do those jobs on a daily basis. In addition, employees are often doing work outside of the responsibilities detailed in their job descriptions without being compensated for that work. This year’s pandemic has exacerbated all of these problems, making clear that now is the time to address them in order to secure a more sustainable workplace for the years to come.
We want our workplace to reflect the world we live in—and the culture we love covering—by supporting all voices and diversifying our newsroom. EW should also nurture talent by investing in sustained mentorship. Additionally, our hard-working employees deserve opportunities for actionable career advancement. Passion alone is not a tenable substitute for fair compensation, affordable health insurance, and reasonable work hours—prime examples of what a fair and secure workplace would provide.
Specifically, we are choosing to unionize with the NewsGuild alongside our esteemed colleagues at peer publications like PEOPLE, The New York Times, The L.A. Times, and New York Magazine. We believe that this is the best way to protect our rights as workers and ensure that EW will remain the go-to pop culture publication for its next 30 years and beyond. We ask Meredith Corporation to recognize our union, and we look forward to joining in an amicable collective-bargaining process alongside our colleagues at PEOPLE in one collective Meredith union.
From the editorial staff of Martha Stewart Living:
Now in its 30th year, Martha Stewart Living is a brand that celebrates finding joy at home, in good things big and small. We, its print and digital editorial staff, are immensely proud of our opportunity to teach readers how to do that, equipping them with fresh ideas and the skills necessary to put them into action. But in order to continue uplifting our loyal audience, we need to be similarly supported and valued in our workplace.
If we have learned anything about our team since the pandemic struck, it is how essential each of us is to its success. This new reality has only made us more aware of the problems that have needed to be addressed for a long time—our workplace lacks morale, open communication, and sufficient resources. We’ve been left out of the loop on brand-strategy decisions that directly affect us and the publication that we care so deeply about. We can no longer brush these shortcomings aside; we want to change our workplace for the better.
As the staff of a magazine based on creativity and ingenuity, we are asking for a cultural shift in that very direction; we seek a sustainable workload, actionable career-growth opportunities, healthy feedback (including post-mortem meetings), and tangible recognition of the detail we put into our work. Not only will these changes benefit us, but they will also help retain our exceptional workforce, thus halting the high rate of turnover and securing decades of key institutional knowledge.
Such a positive workplace environment will also attract diverse talent—another one of our goals. Living is as American as apple pie: Our founder is a self-made entrepreneur, and our content resonates with a mosaic of people across ages and demographics. As a result, our team, too, should reflect the modern makeup of our country.
Each member of our seasoned staff fills many roles. In addition to our core responsibilities, we serve as industry experts, cover for vacated positions, and create content for special issues and multiple verticals. Given this, we are underpaid and overworked, typically without access to overtime or proper paid time off. While we love creating at such a respected title as Living, pride and prestige alone are not substitutes for livable, fair wages; functional workloads; job security; and the mental health that comes with these.
Our team is always thinking about what the next good thing may be, and at present, that is forming a union with The NewsGuild of New York, which represents our peers at such outlets as The New York Times, The New Yorker, and our colleagues at PEOPLE. We are confident that this is the best way for us to protect our rights as workers and ensure our publication’s continued success and growth for its next 30 years and beyond. We ask Meredith Corporation to recognize our union, and we look forward to joining in an amicable collective-bargaining process alongside our colleagues at PEOPLE in one collective Meredith union.
From the editorial staff of PeopleTV:
PEOPLE’s reach extends far beyond the newsstand. Digital video content plays an essential role in the brand’s modern success, but the creators and distributors of PeopleTV content don’t enjoy the workplace protections afforded to the writers and artists who staff PEOPLE magazine. We collaborate on the same stories, and we deserve equal benefits. With the support of our print and digital peers, the PeopleTV staffers have decided to form a union with the NewsGuild of New York.
Our decision comes at an extraordinary moment for workers across all disciplines. In the throes of a pandemic, we are as uncertain as ever about job security in an already precarious industry. We find ourselves in a vulnerable position alongside our print and digital colleagues—we cannot effectively advocate for our interests without union protection. It’s important that we are extended the same protections as our peers.
The benefits we seek are hardly limited to concerns over possible layoffs. Our good work often goes unrecognized and unrewarded. Currently, PeopleTV video content is published uncredited. Many of us have gone years without receiving a raise or promotion, and we regularly accept responsibilities that exceed our titles without commensurate pay. Salaries vary widely among colleagues who are instructed to perform similar tasks, and we are expected to work long or unpredictable hours without receiving additional compensation. We believe that by uniting we can create a better, more equitable workplace for all.
To that end, it’s critical we make certain PeopleTV is a welcoming and diverse work environment. Meredith recently announced a companywide "recruitment, retention, and education" strategy for inclusion. We expect management to uphold the policies they set forth and to pay and promote everyone—and especially women, people of color, and transgender and gender-nonconforming people—equally for equal work.
Ultimately, we care deeply about the work we create. To secure the success of that work and our brand, it is imperative that our rights as employees be protected and represented beside our print and digital peers’. PeopleTV is young, but our staff is exceptionally equipped to ensure its continued growth for many years to come. We ask Meredith Corporation to recognize our union, and we look forward to joining in an amicable collective-bargaining process alongside our colleagues at PEOPLE in one collective Meredith union.
From the editorial staff of SHAPE:
SHAPE is an iconic women's brand that reaches 2.5 million print readers and five million digital readers. For nearly 40 years it has been the authoritative voice speaking directly to women who lead an active lifestyle, rooted in the science-backed expertise of our editors. Through our magazine, website, social media platforms, and experiences, SHAPE serves as their definitive resource for active wellness, delivering information, stories, and a trusted roadmap for navigating their wellness journeys. We, the editorial staff, are proud to work on such an important and beautifully designed brand and want to ensure that it continues to create content that helps women improve all aspects of their lives. It is precisely because of our dedication to SHAPE that we've decided to form a union with the NewsGuild of New York.
The SHAPE brand is built upon the hard work of a team of print and digital editors and brought to life by photo editors, designers, producers, and social media strategists who report, write, and design thoughtful content that covers the science of fitness, health, beauty, food, and fashion. While the work is labor-intensive, we remain committed to providing a high level of accuracy, upholding strict journalistic standards and creating a beautiful product. But because of understaffing and a lack of willingness and resources to refill positions once they are vacated, each of us continually takes on more work without added compensation.
We are also concerned with the lack of diversity in our workplace, our precarious job security, and a long-standing culture that tolerates and at times rewards unprofessional behavior. In its pages, SHAPE promotes physical and mental wellness. Its workplace does not.
Our decision to unionize comes at a pivotal moment of cultural awareness, and we are determined to do everything we can to protect the health and integrity of our publication and our staff. We believe that collective bargaining is the best way to secure a fairer and more productive workplace and to ensure SHAPE continues to thrive. We ask Meredith Corporation to recognize our union, and we look forward to joining in an productive collective-bargaining process alongside our colleagues at PEOPLE in one collective Meredith union.
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