Frequently Asked QuestionS
Why are employees at The New Yorker forming a union?
Without a union in place, our employer has the legal right to change the conditions under which we work at any time, unilaterally. Forming a union is the only way to establish a legally binding contract that spells out our working conditions for all to see, and to which the company must adhere. With a union, we’ll have the ability to work collectively with our colleagues to improve our working conditions. A union will help us advocate for more job security, fairer pay, proper overtime compensation, clearer paths to job advancement, a commitment to staff diversity, and more workplace transparency. A union will also allow us to challenge corporate cost-cutting measures like the subcontracting of employees—a practice that leaves some of us without health insurance and other benefits—and department consolidations that threaten the magazine.
The New Yorker Union is us, the employees, and we have more leverage together than we do as individuals.
What are the issues?
We have seen a steady stream of our New Yorker colleagues leave for jobs that provide more tenable wages, and pay at our workplace often varies significantly among people who hold the same position. We lack job security and, for the most part, receive no overtime pay. Some of us have worked for years as subcontracted employees, without health insurance and other basic benefits, though we do the same jobs as the employees who sit beside us. There is no clear system of tying compensation to performance, no codified method of performance evaluation, and few opportunities for career development.
What happens next?
With the support of an overwhelming majority of our colleagues, we have requested voluntary recognition of the NewsGuild as our collective-bargaining representative. Certification grants us the legal right to negotiate a collective-bargaining agreement (a union contract) with management. We have requested voluntary recognition of our union, which can be accomplished through a simple card-check agreement, in which a neutral third party verifies that a majority of eligible staff members have signed union authorization cards.
Following certification, we will elect unit officers, who will serve as our bargaining-unit representatives, and appoint a bargaining committee. The bargaining-committee members will then send out a survey to the entire membership in order to get a comprehensive understanding of which issues matter the most to the newsroom. They will then work with our Guild representatives to draft contract proposals that address those issues. Once an agreement has been reached, the contract will be put to a vote by the membership, and a majority must vote to approve the contract.
Who is and isn’t eligible for the union?
All full-time and part-time editorial staffers of The New Yorker who are non-managerial and non-supervisory are eligible for the union. Unfortunately, staff writers who are independent contractors (1099) are not.
Do other publications have unions?
Many of the country’s most reputable news organizations are unionized. They include the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, the Associated Press, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as many digital media organizations, such as Slate, the Daily Beast, HuffPost, Vox Media, Vice Media, and Mic.
Working at The New Yorker is a dream job. Why unionize?
It is our love for The New Yorker and our dedication to its long-term well-being that have motivated this effort. We are committed to creating a work environment where employees can have long, stimulating careers and be compensated fairly for them. And we are committed to building a workplace that reflects the conscience expressed in the pages of our publication.
Will forming a union threaten The New Yorker’s finances?
Many of the workplace issues that we want to address—such as job security, diversity in hiring, transparency, and accountability—are not financial. The improvements in pay and benefits that we will negotiate at the bargaining table will be just that: a negotiation. If The New Yorker and Condé Nast claim poverty in negotiations, they will be legally obligated to show us that they cannot afford the improvements we ask for. Ultimately, we’ll vote on a contract that we are all happy with, and we would never demand a contract that would threaten the financial stability of the company.
Can you be fired or retaliated against for supporting the organizing drive?
The National Labor Relations Act gives workers the right to organize a union in their workplace, and it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against its employees for coming together to improve their working conditions. The New Yorker and Condé Nast are barred from threatening employees or coercing them to oppose a union drive. Our union is serious about protecting our rights as workers, and we have been trained on what those rights are, including what to look out for throughout the course of the campaign.
Will this make the workplace more antagonistic?
Absolutely not. Having a union gives us a predictable framework for addressing issues with management so that disputes don’t turn into personal conflicts between bosses and powerless subordinates. We all have different relationships with our managers—some good, some bad, some neutral. A union offers us opportunities to protect the positive aspects of the working conditions that our managers create, while giving us the power to address concerns collectively. A unionized workplace will insure that all of The New Yorker’s editorial workers receive fair treatment, regardless of whether they are friendly with their managers.
What are membership dues?
Membership dues are 1.3846 per cent of base pay. Dues are not collected until our first contract is ratified. Dues support the work that the union does on our behalf, which is often costly. The amount paid in dues is small compared with the higher pay and benefits gained through collective bargaining.
What kinds of things will be negotiated into a contract?
This will be up to us as a collective group. Through the organizing process, we have been identifying the issues that matter the most to us at The New Yorker. Once our union is official, we will send out a bargaining survey to the full membership to determine what we want to prioritize in our contract. We are looking to negotiate over our core working conditions—our salaries, hours, benefits, job titles and descriptions, as well as issues such as diversity and improved communication.
Will having a union prevent advocating for things like raises and promotions individually?
No. When we negotiate our contract, it will only set transparent salary minimums, not maximums. We’re free to negotiate above that directly with our managers. Guild representatives are here to help us advocate for ourselves in those negotiations.
Will an employment contract mean less flexibility in the workplace?
Union representation will not impose workplace rigidity. Management is required to maintain past practices related to working conditions. In fact, after we are certified, The New Yorker is legally obligated to maintain the status quo and refrain from unilateral changes to our terms and conditions of employment. Our current benefits, including those that are unofficially a standard practice, will remain in place until we ratify a contract. If you’re currently allowed to work from home, you will be able to continue to do so. We can also choose to bargain over flexible work arrangements as part of contract negotiations to increase access to work-from-home benefits.