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Hearst Magazines Union | Writers Guild of America East
Hearst Media Union2020-05-26T22:22:03+00:00

WHY WE’RE ORGANIZING

From the Hearst Magazines Media Union Organizing Committee

Hearst Magazines’ editorial, video, design, photo, and social staff across 28 brands—Autoweek, Best Products, Bicycling, Car and Driver, Cosmopolitan, Country Living, Delish, ELLE, ELLE Decor, Esquire, Food Network Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s Bazaar, HGTV Magazine, House Beautiful, Marie Claire, Men’s Health, O The Oprah Magazine, Popular Mechanics, Prevention, Road & Track, Runner’s World, Seventeen, The Pioneer Woman, Town & Country, Veranda, Woman’s Day, Women’s Health—are proud to announce that we are unionizing with the Writers Guild of America, East. The Hearst company and its brands have a storied legacy stretching back to the golden age of journalism—a tradition we are proud to continue today as creative employees at the company. Hearst has always been quick to adapt to new mediums and changes in the industry, allowing the company and its brands to thrive in even the most uncertain of times. We believe the most logical path to ensure Hearst’s continued excellence and leading position in the industry is to unionize to form a more equitable workplace, especially as our peers at other companies have made this common practice.

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Hearst is one of the largest editorial employers in the industry, and media’s rapidly changing landscape means it’s more important than ever for us to have a say in the conditions of our employment. We care deeply about the work we do at Hearst and its reputation within the media industry, and we believe we deserve a seat at the table and a say in how we are compensated and treated in the workplace. 

Our 28 brands represent every facet of contemporary culture, and we believe employees at Hearst should reflect the diversity of the world at large. The Hearst Magazines Media Union demands that the company make concrete strides to form a truly inclusive and fair workplace. The only way to drive the company culture forward, continue as a leader within the media industry, and make the brands stronger collectively and separately is to consolidate our interests into one strong, collective voice.

Organizing has become common in our industry. In forming a union, we’ll be joining our colleagues across the industry at Vox Media, NY Magazine, Slate and countless others. It has become standard for companies to recognize employee unions through a fair voluntary recognition process—like a card check—including at peer companies like Condé Nast, other magazines like Fast Company, and large legacy news organizations like CBS, and we expect Hearst Magazines to do the same. We hope to achieve the same rights as those employees to collectively bargain for a more equitable workplace, so that we can continue to produce the best content possible, and carry Hearst forward as a standard of integrity, character, honesty, and fairness within the media landscape. 

In forming a union, we will address these issues:

Diversity

We are made of many brands, but as a union we are coming together as one to advance all employee interests. We want Hearst to represent all voices and perspectives of both its employees and the world at large with regard to race and ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic background, age, immigration status, and disability. We want Hearst to focus on diversity and inclusion in recruiting, hiring, promoting, leadership decision-making, and addressing issues within the company itself if and when they arise. Our goal is to be a leader in the industry and set universal standards.

Transparency

We want insight into the decisions that affect the business structures of our companies, our positions, and our workloads. We also demand clear management structures and organizational charts for each team. We want to see fair and consistent job titles and duties, transparent scheduling, and wage tiers and a mechanism for annual reviews in order to ensure a clear path for advancement within the company.

Compensation

Hearst’s compensation packages should match the sterling reputation of its brands. We demand competitive salaries with mechanisms for raises for both service-rendered achievements and cost-of-living increases, along with equal pay and policies for quality-of-life matters like fair parental leave and affordable healthcare. Since we work in a creative industry that demands nontraditional schedules, we want a clear policy for comp time. Since our roles as representatives of Hearst’s brands can also provide us with a unique platform, we demand a clearer policy regarding intellectual property rights and credit for the use of our image.

Editorial standards

Above all, we want to produce the highest-quality work. We hope to propel the standards of the industry forward while ensuring the integrity of the company’s values, from a clear division between editorial and advertising to a transparent e-commerce strategy.

SIGN A CARD

If you work in an editorial role (e.g. written, video, social, design, photo, etc.) for a Hearst Magazines brand or for a hubbed department that works directly with a brand, use the form below to sign an authorization card with the Writers Guild of America, East.

CAMPAIGN UPDATES

Hearst agrees to a mail ballot election

We are very pleased to let you know that Hearst has agreed with our proposal for 100% use of mail ballots for our union election. We appreciate their continued commitment to our safety during this public health crisis. We are looking forward to a timely, safe, and secure election so [...]

May 26th, 2020|Uncategorized|

Some good news from the NLRB

We have a decision from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)! After months of waiting, we are thrilled to let you know that the NLRB has directed an election to occur for our union. It will be in accordance with all of our initial proposals when we first filed for an election [...]

May 13th, 2020|Union Update|

NLRB hearings have wrapped up

Today, we are wrapping up the hearing process at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) so we can proceed, finally, to an official election to certify our union! We expect a final ruling from the NLRB in a couple weeks on how/when we will have our vote. Typically, when the [...]

January 24th, 2020|Union Update|

We filed at the NLRB – what happens next?

Last week’s button day and union Thanksgiving were a big success. Tons of us gathered—from New York and Pennsylvania to Michigan and on FaceTime—across the country to show support and spend time as a unit. We’re looking forward to continuing to develop community and solidarity across brands and geography, especially [...]

November 27th, 2019|Union Update|

We’ve requested union recognition!

Great news: based on the strong majority support we have across the company, we formally asked Hearst to recognize our union today! We took another important step toward having a seat at the bargaining table. We’re looking forward to their response. We know that management has been talking a lot [...]

November 14th, 2019|Union Update|

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

GENERAL FAQ’s

WHY ARE MEDIA WORKERS ORGANIZING UNIONS?2020-05-26T21:38:00+00:00

In five years, thousands of media employees have come together to unionize their workplaces and negotiate union contracts. Fundamentally, the demand of any group of workers forming a union is the same – to win a formal seat at the table in order to negotiate over the future of their workplace. Each group decides what to advocate for at the bargaining table as a union.

Though priorities vary from workplace to workplace, the issues tend to revolve around the same categories. Media employees want to address core economic concerns, including: pay equity and transparency, preserving or improving benefits (leave time, 401k, health insurance), regular and fair cost of living increases, working conditions (such as hours), job security, and intellectual property and proper crediting. Creative professionals also negotiate to address workplace “culture” issues, including: diversity and equity, corporate transparency and communication, and editorial policies and independence.

Negotiating a union contract is a core element of any unionized workplace, however, it doesn’t stop there. Organized workplaces have structures for democratic representation and collective decision making processes. That means that unionized companies have a mechanism in place to share information across employees and to take collective action if and when necessary. This includes, for example, regular meetings with management and organizing workplace diversity committees.

Thrillist Union member Anthony Schneck wrote in his own words why he and co-workers came together to organize a union.

I’M NOT CURRENTLY UNHAPPY. WHY DOES ORGANIZING MAKE SENSE?2020-05-26T21:47:20+00:00

Leadership and internal structures, ownership, and editorial direction of media and news companies change rapidly. Organizing is a way to ensure a seat at the table and guarantee terms of employment, including policies on severance, layoffs, discipline, and termination. Companies expand rapidly and workers deserve a seat at the table to participate in decisions made about the future of the companies they helped build. For example, HuffPost and Vox Media negotiated unprecedented contract language that provides a process for revenue sharing of derivative works. 

Additionally, union membership expands the role of editorial staff in the management and direction of a company. Union members in media participate in building the company through the creation of committees and increased communication and collaboration across regions and departments.

Organizing a union isn’t only about the future of one company. Industries with union density have fewer pay gaps and higher pay overall. Union members across the industry are working together to support each other and build a long-term movement to address and change systemic issues like diversifying the media industry and protecting critical journalism.

WHAT WILL MANAGEMENT DO AND/OR SAY ABOUT EMPLOYEES ORGANIZING?2020-05-26T21:50:01+00:00

Given the global pandemic, we find ourselves in a unique moment – obviously, these are unprecedented times. Hearst executives may use this talking point to try to persuade us that now is not the right time to form a union. But it’s just the opposite: it is clear that we need to have a seat at the table. We formed our union to ensure that we all have a voice and more security at work, and to bring us together in times of great difficulty. And we believe that the best way to navigate the ever-changing media industry, pandemic or not, is together.

They may also point to media companies that have laid off or furloughed employees or otherwise made cuts during the pandemic, and insist that it’s because those companies have unions. This is false: many unionized media companies have not laid off employees or made cuts – and plenty of non-unionized media companies have. The difference is that if Hearst does need to make tough decisions around employment, they must negotiate with our union first. Read Vox Media Union’s Twitter thread about what happened with their furloughs.

One of the most common anti-union talking points is the idea that the union is an outside entity that will impose restrictive rules or create more bureaucracy. Management will often ask staff to give the company a chance to make improvements before bringing in a union. But the union is not a third party. It’s all of our colleagues coming together to establish common priorities and bargain collectively over the terms and conditions of our employment. It’s the only way for staff to have a guaranteed seat at the table and a guaranteed say in pay, working conditions, and benefits. The union can be used to establish things like employee site reps and labor management committees, which both increase, not limit, open lines of communication. 

Media industry executives also may try to scare their employees by arguing that a union will threaten innovation. As VICE, G/O Media, Vox Media, Group Nine, and HuffPost have already demonstrated, a union contract that creates fair working conditions does not hinder creative flexibility. You can read their contracts here.

Often these messages are delivered by management via email as well as individual and group meetings. Most anti-union campaigns use the same script – one example is management’s unsuccessful anti-union campaign at ThrillistManagement is not allowed to interrogate, intimidate or threaten you over your union activity. If you feel your rights have been infringed upon, contact the Hearst Union Organizing Committee: hearstunion@gmail.com.

ARE THERE REPERCUSSIONS TO ORGANIZING?2020-05-26T21:54:25+00:00

It is our legal right to organize a union at work. The WGAE takes that right very seriously and stands with employees to see that they are protected when they organize. You can read about your legal right to form a union on the National Labor Relations Board website.

Beyond the legal protection from any kind of company retaliation, the union is a way to ensure we have job protection through the solidarity and strength of our coworkers. When hundreds of people come together and support one another through a union, we are protected from bad or retaliatory management behavior. No one individual can be singled out. This is not the case in a non-union work environment.

CAN MANAGEMENT REDUCE BENEFITS IF WE FORM A UNION?2020-05-26T21:55:47+00:00

Organizing a union is the best way to protect the benefits we currently have, which are at the full discretion of management in a non-union environment. Once our union is recognized, the company must maintain the status quo and can no longer make unilateral changes to terms and conditions of employment; any changes must be negotiated through the collective bargaining process. When negotiating a first union contract, the union will typically propose to lock in the things employees like and make improvements where things could be better. And then it’s a negotiation from there. The stronger and more participatory the union, the more likely it is that employees can secure workplace improvements.

WHAT IS THE WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA, EAST?2020-05-26T21:56:31+00:00

The Writers Guild of America, East is a labor union of thousands of creative professionals who create media, broadcast news, scripted television and motion pictures. For decades the Writers Guild has been essential in fighting for better standards in working conditions, compensation, and the respect of dignity of members. The WGAE’s mission is to build a community of creative professionals with the willingness to support each other and the power to secure fair industry standards.

Typical WGAE bargaining units in media include writers, reporters, and editors, as well as a range of people doing creative and editorial work, such as video and podcast producers, social media managers, photographers, and graphic designers. Each group works together to decide and define the boundaries of editorial staff.

HOW MUCH ARE UNION DUES?2020-05-26T21:58:23+00:00

Dues ensure that Guild members have the resources to negotiate and enforce strong contracts, seek legal support, and implement member-driven events and programs.

No one pays dues until a first contract is negotiated and voted upon. It’s up to us to work together to advocate for a strong contract and then decide, through voting, whether or not to ratify the contract.

WGAE dues are set by the Council (a governing body made up of elected members). Dues are 1.5% of earnings + $40/quarter membership fee. After a contract is negotiated and ratified, dues are deducted each pay period. Upon leaving a union shop, individuals can decide to continue paying the $40/quarter fee to retain Guild membership. The $500 initiation fee is a one-time fee that is waived for anyone on staff before a union contract is in place; it can be paid in installments by anyone hired after contract ratification.

NLRB FAQ’s

WHAT IS THE NLRB?2020-05-26T21:59:13+00:00

The NLRB is the federal agency responsible for enforcing labor laws and administering union elections when employers insist on a formal election process.

WHEN WILL AN ELECTION TAKE PLACE?2020-05-29T20:51:03+00:00

The NLRB will mail ballots to all of us on June 12th. We encourage you to send yours back as soon as you receive it! You must return your ballot so that it is received by the NLRB by July 13th (this should allow plenty of time for us to ask for replacement ballots from the NLRB if any of us have a problem with the mail). It is important to note that the NLRB is a federal agency and they will administer this secret ballot election completely independently, using our mailing addresses that have been provided by Hearst. If you believe the address Hearst provided may be incorrect or you move at any point between now and the ballot due date, please get in touch with us ASAP (hearstunion@gmail.com, or talk to your organizing committee rep). And please reach out to your organizing committee rep no later than June 26th if you have not received a ballot.

HOW WILL A LIST OF ELIGIBLE VOTERS BE DETERMINED?2020-05-26T22:00:52+00:00

In our case, we went through a lengthy hearing at the NLRB to determine the makeup of our union. Hearst argued that we should be split into six unions, that certain employees are part of an existing “union” called the Hearst International Employees Association, that Best Products should not be eligible for our union, and that certain employees are supervisors.Thankfully, the NLRB sided with our union on every issue. The company has now issued an eligible voter list based on the NLRB’s decision. If you’re curious about your eligibility, please reach out to hearstunion@gmail.com, or talk to your Organizing Committee member!

I THINK I’M A SUPERVISOR, HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M ELIGIBLE?2020-05-26T22:01:40+00:00

In a creative workplace, particularly newsrooms, it’s not always clear who is/isn’t a supervisor. We rely on knowledge of our workplace and conversations with colleagues to learn more about people’s job duties. Beyond that, we examine organizational structures to determine the scope of the union.

Management has contested that many people at Hearst are supervisors, and the union disagrees. Those of us who fall into this category will be voting provisionally in our union election. If you’re curious about your eligibility, please reach out to hearstunion@gmail.com, or talk to your Organizing Committee member!

HOW WILL WE VOTE?2020-05-26T22:02:12+00:00

The NLRB conducts secret ballot elections. Hearst has agreed with our proposal for a mail ballot election so we can all vote safely. Once ballots are mailed to us, we will have  a window of 10-14 days to ensure everyone receives a ballot and has time to mail it back to the NLRB. It is a secret ballot with two sealed return envelopes to ensure anonymity (disputed “supervisors’” ballots will be sequestered). Only the NLRB will have access to our ballots and representatives of this independent federal agency will count our ballots. The process will be very similar to an election for public office.

WHAT ARE OUR RIGHTS LEADING UP TO AN ELECTION?2020-05-26T22:02:46+00:00

We all have federally protected rights to advocate for a “Yes” vote leading up to our election and to do so in an environment free from intimidation or interrogation. For more on our rights, please check out this page from the NLRB.

WHAT CAN MANAGEMENT SAY AND/OR DO LEADING UP TO AN ELECTION?2020-05-26T22:03:20+00:00

Management can hold more “informational” or “educational” meetings leading up to the election and can advocate for us to vote “No.” However, they can’t make any threats or offer any inducements to change our minds. They can’t interrogate any of us about our support. If you have any questionable interactions with management (or their representatives), please reach out to your Organizing Committee member or email us at hearstunion@gmail.com.

WHEN IS THE UNION OFFICIAL?2020-05-26T22:04:00+00:00

A workplace is “officially” union upon winning union recognition. Union recognition means that the company has a legal obligation to bargain a contract. Most media companies have respected their employees’ democratic right to organize and recognized the union after a neutral third party verifies that a majority of employees signed union authorization cards. In a few cases, media companies insisted on an election and attempted to dissuade people from continuing to organize in the lead up to the vote. For example, employees at Group Nine, Slate, Gimlet Media, and Onion, Inc. won union recognition after an online election.

In our case, Hearst rejected our request for voluntary recognition and forced a lengthy NLRB process, even though a strong majority of us already demonstrated support for our union by signing union cards. Our union will be officially certified after we win the election.

After winning recognition or voting online or through the NLRB, employees nominate a union bargaining committee that will negotiate a first contract with the company. A union contract is only in effect after being bargained and voted into place by the employees covered by the union.

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING FAQ’s

WHAT IS COLLECTIVE BARGAINING?2020-05-26T22:05:42+00:00

The basic premise of collective bargaining is that we are in a stronger negotiating position together as a group, rather than as individuals. We are organizing this union and voting in our NLRB election to secure a seat at the bargaining table, where we will make proposals for a contract that can address our top issues like pay, benefits, job protections, workload and hours, staff diversity, leave time, editorial standards, and corporate transparency, among others.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER WE OFFICIALLY VOTE TO FORM OUR UNION?2020-05-26T22:06:19+00:00

After a majority of the votes cast are in favor of our union, the NLRB will certify our union as the bargaining representative for editorial staff at all our brands. After NLRB certification, Hearst will be legally obligated to engage in good faith bargaining with our union. Then we will proceed to contract negotiations by filling out bargaining surveys to identify important issues to address in our first contract and we will nominate representatives from every brand to serve on the Hearst Union bargaining committee to compile the survey results and represent all of us in negotiations.

Once our union is certified, the company will be obligated to maintain the status quo when it comes to our terms and conditions of employment, unless we, the union, agree to change them. The company will no longer be able to unilaterally change our benefits without negotiation. 

For an overview of the process, the NLRB has a fact sheet that goes into more detail here.

IF A GROUP OF PEOPLE GET RAISES, WON’T THAT MEAN WE HAVE TO CUT FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE?2020-05-26T22:06:57+00:00

A key part of contract negotiations is conducting a thorough financial analysis of the institution. The company is compelled to disclose certain information. Through a detailed cost-out of each proposal and this analysis, we propose realistic improvements that will work for employees and the company.

Companies often think that they are running their operations as efficiently as possible. Editorial staff are on the front line and may be able to identify inefficient practices that, if changed, could save money. A union is also a way to advocate for long-term staff investment, which can improve morale and reduce turnover.

WILL I LOSE SOMETHING GREAT I NEGOTIATED FOR MYSELF?2020-05-26T22:07:43+00:00

Union contracts address a broad range of issues, from pay and benefits to editorial standards and diversity. While contracts can set minimums for pay, they don’t set maximums – and individuals still retain the right to negotiate above and beyond the minimum rates.

WON’T THIS TAKE DECISION MAKING POWER AWAY FROM US BY MAKING US FOLLOW ARCANE UNION RULES & PROTOCOLS?2020-05-26T22:08:57+00:00

Through continued conversations and a bargaining survey, we determine the bargaining priorities and what does or doesn’t work for our workplace, then work with the WGAE staff to develop proposals that specifically address those issues. Those proposals are voted into place by us – the employees.

G/O Media, Vox Media, VICE, Fast Company, Slate, and others are flexible, fast-paced, and innovative workplaces in the media industry that have strong union contracts in place.

ARE THERE OTHER BENEFITS OF BEING A GUILD MEMBER?2020-05-26T22:09:34+00:00

Guild staff work with the elected Council and interested members to implement a range of initiatives. In just the last year, Guild members have applied for grants to start writing fellowship programs, hosted film screenings, social events, and professional development courses, and collaborated on initiatives like the Diversity Coalition and lobbying for diversity tax credits in film and television production.

Members also participate in the annual WGAE Awards Ceremony, receive free film screeners, and have the opportunity to join a national community of creative professionals in media and entertainment.

SOUNDS GREAT. WHAT’S THE DOWNSIDE?2020-05-26T22:10:12+00:00

Bargaining a contract is about identifying core issues that need to be clarified, which requires compromise and collaboration. The process isn’t perfect or magic. There can be conflict at various stages of the process, whether it is co-workers who disagree with each other or managers who push back on proposals or union involvement. Contract negotiations are just that – a negotiation. The process to get to the negotiating table requires work and involvement from a lot of people.

WHAT WILL THE UNION MEAN FOR MY PENSION?2020-05-26T22:10:48+00:00

Organizing a union is the best way to protect the benefits we currently have, which are at the full discretion of management in a non-union environment. Once our union is recognized, the company must maintain the status quo and can no longer make unilateral changes to employee benefits; any changes must be negotiated through the collective bargaining process. When negotiating a first union contract, the union will typically propose to lock in the things employees like and make improvements where things could be better. Many union contracts protect defined benefit plans for the existing participants, while boosting benefits for the rest. Without a contract there’s no guarantee that the company will maintain pension contributions.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER BARGAINING?2020-05-26T22:11:23+00:00

Once the union and management bargaining committee reach a tentative agreement on the contract, it is voted into place by the membership. Once the contract is in effect, members nominate a representative union committee. The union committee works with Guild staff to enforce the contract and communicate with management about additional issues in the workplace.

The strongest unions are those that have actively engaged members at every stage of the process. There may be workplace issues that arise after contract negotiations that require people to talk with each other to identify the problem and develop solutions. For example, many unionized sites have active initiatives around diversity and have developed proposals to implement unconscious bias trainings and best practices in hiring, recruitment, and retention. Guild staff can facilitate this process but we’re the experts in our field and workplace.

ABOUT THE WGAE

The Writers Guild of America, East is a labor union of thousands of creative professionals who create media, broadcast news, scripted television and motion pictures. For decades the Writers Guild has been essential in fighting for better standards in working conditions, compensation, and the respect of dignity of members. The WGAE’s mission is to build a community of creative professionals with the willingness to support each other and the power to secure fair industry standards.

FURTHER READING

VOX MEDIA CONTRACT WIN 

Washington Post | Erik Wemple

I WAS SKEPTICAL THEN I JOINED

Vox | German Lopez

FUTURE RECOGNIZES UNION

GamesIndustry.biz | Brendan Sinclair

FAST COMPANY UNIONIZES

WWD | Kali Hays

CBSN UNIONIZES WITH WGAE

Deadline | David Robb

MEDIA UNIONS HISTORY

Columbia Journalism Review | Steven Greenhouse

UNION VOICE AT THRILLIST

AFL-CIO | Anthony Schneck

THRILLIST ANTI-UNION CAMPAIGN

Deadspin | Hamilton Nolan

VOX EMPLOYEES WALKOUT

CNN | Oliver Darcy

TV WRITERS READY TO FIGHT

Vanity Fair | Joy Press

WGAE REJECTS OFFER

Variety | Cynthia Littleton

AGENCY AGREEMENT 2019

wgaeast.org | Writers Guild of America, East

HOLLYWOOD FIGHT EXPLAINED

Vulture | Jordan Crucchiola

2008 WRITERS STRIKE

HuffPost | Leigh Blickley

JOINING THE RANKS

Columbia Journalism Review | Anna Heyward

CONTACT US

Fill out this form and a member of the Hearst Magazines Media Union Organizing Committee or a staff person from the WGAE will be in touch!