In Latest Drive, Union Demands Recognition At Two Condé Nast Titles

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Amid continued turbulent times in the publishing industry, two more editorial staffs at Condé Nast turn to unionization.

Ongoing sinking moral and fear of layoffs at Condé Nast may have had a hand in helping the Communications Workers of America’s NewsGuild of New York obtain signatures on union authorization cards from a majority of staffers at two of its publications.

According to Variety, “editorial staffers at two titles — music publication Pitchfork and tech/science site Ars Technica — have unionized with the NewsGuild of New York.”

According to the union, an “overwhelming majority” of eligible staff of both Pitchfork and Ars Technica signed union-authorization cards and have requested voluntary recognition of their respective unions.

The two pubs join another Condé Nast title, the New Yorker, whose edit staffers are members of the NewsGuild of New York, Local 31003 of the Communications Workers of America. In all, the union reps nearly 3,000 employees at New York-area news organizations, including the New York Times, Thomson Reuters, the Nation, the Daily Beast, Mashable, PC Magazine, and BuzzFeed News (whose employees joined the NewsGuild in February).

In 2018, Condé Nast—which has lost millions over the last few years—voluntarily recognized the CWA’s NewsGuild after staffers at the New Yorker signed authorization cards.

This most recent unionization effort at Condé Nast is the latest in a string of union drives in new and legacy media that began in 2015, with the unionization of the now-defunct

“On June 3, 2015, Gawker’s employees voted 80 to 27 to unionize, becoming the first major website to take that step,” notes veteran labor reporter Steven Greenhouse.

(Truthout, a nonprofit progressive website, had unionized in 2009.) Gawker’s move sparked a movement, and within months, journalists at SalonVice MediaHuffPost, and the Guardian US had unionized.

As this union wave grew, journalists at about 30 websites unionized and so did journalists at the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The New Yorker, New York magazine, and The New Republic. And newsrooms are still continuing to unionize; the Hartford Courant, the Virginian-Pilot, the Allentown (Pa.), Morning Call,Refinery29, Fast Company, and WBUR in Boston have unionized in recent months, and workers at BuzzFeed  and podcasting startup Gimlet Media have asked for union recognition. (Gawker Media filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2016 as a result of Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit, and two months later Univision acquired the company and picked up the union contract, even as it closed down the website.)

Although CWA’s NewsGuild and, as well, the Writers Guild of America, have been successful at unionizing the staffs at multiple publications—both new and legacy media—it is unclear what the long-term benefit will be.

Even as staffs unionize, and contracts are reached, the media industry continues to be besieged with downsizings and closures.



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