Editorial Workers at Forbes Win Union Vote 90.5%
More than 100 employees at Forbes will be represented by the NewsGuild of New York after prevailing in a mail-ballot election
New York — Editorial employees at Forbes voted 67-7 to be represented by The NewsGuild of New York, TNG-CWA Local 31003 in a National Labor Relations Board election that concluded today. The more than 100-person bargaining unit includes reporters, editors, designers, videographers and social media editors.
“After months of organizing, we're proud of our newsroom for coming together to make Forbes a fairer and more secure workplace for staffers at all levels,” said Rachel Sandler, a wealth reporter at Forbes. “We're excited to move forward as a unit to address diversity, pay equity, editorial integrity and much more at the bargaining table.”
“Today’s results reflect Forbes staffers’ desire for a more equitable, stable and transparent workplace,” said Ariel Shapiro, media and entertainment reporter at Forbes. “We look forward to working with management on a contract that will achieve just that.”
"I am proud to officially welcome Forbes' editorial newsroom and video staff to the Guild,” said Susan DeCarava, President of The NewsGuild of New York. “Today’s win is yet another clear example of media workers coming together to bargain collectively to improve their working conditions and to ensure the future of journalism. I look forward to Forbes management working with our bargaining committee in good faith to negotiate a fair contract.”
On May 18, the Forbes Union announced that more than 80% of the editorial staff had signed union authorization cards, requesting voluntary recognition from Forbes management. Members filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board on May 24 after the company refused to recognize the union. The mail-ballot vote was held from June 29 to July 20.
The workers at Forbes are the latest to join the growing movement of journalists organizing to raise media industry standards across the country, including at Insider, The Atlantic, and The Bergen Record. By using their collective voice, journalists have been able to push for structural changes and secure big contract wins. NewsGuild of New York members recently won an historic contract with Condé Nast that included just cause protections, a ban on the use of NDAs, and significant wage increases.
The full mission statement of the Forbes Union is below:
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.
ABOUT THE NEWSGUILD OF NEW YORK
The NewsGuild of New York, Local 31003 of the Communications Workers of America, is a labor union representing nearly 4,000 media professionals and other employees at New York area news organizations, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, Thomson Reuters, The Nation, BuzzFeed News, TIME, PEOPLE, Wirecutter, and The Daily Beast. The NewsGuild of New York advocates for journalists to have a voice in the newsroom, for press freedom, for inclusive and diverse workplaces, and for just cause, no exceptions, for all media professionals.
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