Staff members employed at Hearst Magazines, a New York-based company that runs 24 media properties, have voted to join the Writers Guild of America East. The new union includes staff members across the two dozen media operations that include Town & Country, Esquire and Cosmopolitan. A statement from union organizers named compensation, transparency, diversity, and editorial standards as the top priorities for the unionized staff.
An editor at Elle Culture said that her staff was eager to join forces with peers and push for a fair and equitable workplace. People working in this industry have been under pressure due to the economic forces that have cut into print advertising and subscription revenue for magazines in general. Mass layoffs or outright closures have become common at media businesses, and workers have been joining unions in increasing numbers in recent years so that they can influence the future of the industry. Unionization has already occurred among staff at Vox Media, BuzzFeed News and HuffPost.
The union includes employees working in editorial, photography, video production and social media at Hearst. With members from 24 Hearst publications, it joins the ranks of the largest unions within the media industry. Statements from union organizers given to the media described a unionization process that took over a year as they quietly engaged with employees at the 24 publications.
Creating and running a union often involves legal representation. An attorney knowledgeable about labor law might provide union representation advice that aids an organization with the development of its internal rules. Legal advice might prevent union organizers from violating laws while recruiting new members. An attorney might also manage issues that arise, such an overseeing internal investigations, negotiating collective bargaining agreements and litigating wage and hour cases.