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'Strong Majority' of Hearst Magazines Staffers Vote to Form One of the Media Industry's Biggest Unions

"This is how people who craft content ensure that their voices are heard and their workplace needs are met."

magazine rack

The union will represent Hearst Magazines staffers across 24 brands, including Elle. (Photo: Ken Hawkins/Flickr/cc)

The Writers Guild of America, East announced Monday that a "strong majority" of Hearst Magazines' 500 editorial, video, design, photo, and social staff from 24 print and digital brands voted in favor of forming a union.

"We must keep unions like [WGAE] strong as corporate greed in media continues to threaten jobs."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders

HuffPost noted that "the Hearst Magazines Media Unit will be one of the biggest labor unions in media."

In a letter shared by the labor union Monday, the WGAE's Hearst Magazines Organizing Committee vowed to address diversity, transparency, compensation, and editorial standards.

"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," the letter read. "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."

"In forming a union, we'll be joining our colleagues across the industry at Vox Media, NY Magazine, Slate and countless others," the letter continued. "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."

The union will represent staffers at Autoweek, Best Products, Bicycling, Car & Driver, Cosmopolitan, Country Living, Delish, Elle, Elle Decor, Esquire, Fashion hub, Good Housekeeping, Harper's Bazaar, House Beautiful, Marie Claire, Men's Health, The Oprah Magazine, Popular Mechanics, Prevention, Road & Track, Runner's World, Seventeen, Town & Country, Veranda, Woman's Day, and Women's Health.

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"The issues we want to address as a union are universal and aren't subject to brand by brand," Olivia Fleming, a Harper's Bazaar staffer and one of the union's organizers, told The Daily Beast. "Around overarching themes of transparency, diversity, having a seat at the table. I think those are issues that extend from Road & Track to Cosmo to Elle to Bazaar to Men's Health."

Another union organizer, Elle culture editor Julie Kosin, said, "We're excited to be a part of the labor movement among our peers, and most importantly create a fair and equitable workplace for the future of this industry."

White House hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a longtime labor rights advocate and critic of the corporate media, congratulated Hearst staffers on Twitter:

WGAE executive director Lowell Peterson said in a statement Monday that "the staff at Hearst has demonstrated today that there is always power in a union."

"Hearst's union drive comes as the media industry continues to consolidate, as companies become platform-agnostic and offer content on paper, over the airwaves, and online," said Peterson. "We are proud and pleased to build the movement for collective bargaining for the professional storytellers at Hearst. Unionizing, winning recognition, bargaining contracts, this is how people who craft content ensure that their voices are heard and their workplace needs are met."

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