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 Thrillist. Management 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.