24 Hours: Editorial Employees of The New Yorker Engage in a Day-Long Work Stoppage
For Immediate Release | January 21, 2021
Press Inquiries: Josh Austin, 484.269.0158
24 Hours: Editorial Employees of The New Yorker
Engage in a Day-Long Work Stoppage
In response to Condé Nast and New Yorker management’s egregious
“anti-wage” proposal, The New Yorker Union will walk off the job for
one day to demand pay equity and a fair contract
New York — Today, the editorial employees of The New Yorker Union are undertaking a 24-hour work stoppage to demand fair wages and an equitable salary structure and to protest Condé Nast and The New Yorker management’s ongoing failure to bargaining in good faith and their offensive and unacceptable response to the Guild’s initial wage proposal. Between 6 a.m. EST on Thursday, Jan. 21, and 6 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 22, workers will not participate in the production of or promotion of material for both the print magazine and The New Yorker’s digital platform.
In November 2020, the Guild presented Condé management with a wage proposal that would foster equity within The New Yorker and remedy decades of low and stagnant pay across the editorial staff. Yesterday, The New Yorker Union released an internal pay study, examining salary in relation to employment tenure and self-reported demographics. The study discovered significant pay gaps between men and women—and particularly for women of color, who earn on average about $7,000 less than their male counterparts. The report also confirmed that wage stagnation and lack of opportunity have affected many employees at the magazine; some of the longest-serving workers at The New Yorker are the most underpaid. Find the report summary and our proposed solutions here.
While this report has been shared with the company, Condé management refuses to seek collaborative solutions or seemingly address the issue at all. At the table, management proposed a salary floor of $45,000—only $3,000 more than the lowest current full-time salaries—and an entirely discretionary “merit”-based increase system that would not guarantee any annual salary adjustments. Appallingly, management also proposed retaining the right to decrease any union member’s salary by up to 20 percent at any time.
“Simply, we deserve better,” said Natalie Meade, unit chair of The New Yorker Union. “For over two years, we have come to the table in good faith to collaboratively build a workplace that treats our staff with respect and commits to equity for all in The New Yorker. Yet management consistently opts to devalue our work and our workers. We deserve an equitable pay structure and to close the pay gaps that exist in our workplace. We shouldn’t have to demand it.”
“Like many of my fellow employees, when I came to The New Yorker I took a substantial pay cut,” said Douglas Watson, a copy editor/web producer at The New Yorker. “This sort of thing is hard on a family’s budget, and the past year, which brought unanticipated child-care expenses occasioned by the pandemic, has been tough. Without the federal stimulus payments, we wouldn’t have been able to make ends meet. I don’t know if management realizes that real life is happening out here. It’s time for the company to get serious about bringing these unending contract negotiations to a close.”
“We are fighting to eliminate decades of inequity and pay stagnation at Condé Nast,” said Susan DeCarava, president of The NewsGuild of New York. “The workers who are essential to the production of The New Yorker as an iconic publication deserve better. All of the workers at Condé Nast deserve better. Our purpose as a union is to address issues in the workplace, and ensure job security and equity. We won the battle for job security with #JustCauseNoExceptions; we’ll fight—and do whatever it takes—to eliminate wage disparity at The New Yorker.”
The New Yorker Union’s statement:
Today, the New Yorker Union is undertaking a twenty-four-hour work stoppage. Between 6 A.M. on Thursday, January 21st, and 6 A.M. on Friday, January 22nd, union members will not participate in the production or the promotion of material for the print magazine or the Web site. We are withholding our labor to demand fair wages and a transparent, equitable salary structure, and to protest management’s unacceptable response to our wage proposal and their ongoing failure to bargain in good faith. These negotiations have gone on long enough. If management continues to reject basic concepts like competitive salary minimums and guaranteed annual increases, and refuses to swiftly bargain toward a contract that reflects the value of our members’ work, we will take further action.
In November, 2020—after two years of negotiating over many other important contract provisions—the New Yorker Union presented New Yorker and Condé Nast management with a wage proposal that was aspirational but not unrealistic, designed to remedy decades of underpayment and disparities across roles and departments. The proposal included a salary floor of $65,000, which would allow entry-level employees to support themselves in New York City, and a system of graduated annual increases, which would help compensation keep pace with the cost of living and prevent wage stagnation.
We presented this proposal fully ready to negotiate; we did not expect management to automatically agree to it. But the response they offered, on January 12th, was egregious: it included a salary floor of $45,000—only $3,000 more than the lowest current full-time salaries—and an entirely discretionary “merit”-based increase system that would not guarantee any annual salary adjustments. Management also proposed retaining the right to decrease any union member’s salary by up to twenty per cent at any time.
The company’s proposal showed disrespect for us and for the work we do. Today’s work stoppage is meant to remind The New Yorker and Condé Nast of the value of our labor, and to demonstrate our members’ solidarity in fighting for a fair contract—which includes fair pay. New Yorker and Condé Nast management have often expressed gratitude and admiration for our dedication to our work. We urge them to meet us at the table next week ready to bargain in good faith over wages and other outstanding items, and to make efficient progress toward the contract our members deserve.
We are committed to The New Yorker, which is why many of us have worked here years—even decades—despite low and stagnant wages. However much we may love our jobs, that love is not enough to live on.
Our goal is to make the stakes of these negotiations as real for the company as they are for our members, and for this short-term disruption to create long-term improvements. Change may be uncomfortable for some, but we know our contract can establish a foundation that will allow The New Yorker, and all of us who make it, to thrive.
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 for all media professionals.
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