The union push against Hearst Magazines is coming to a head — despite the fact that the publishing giant is among the few to spare employees from coronavirus cutbacks.
A mail-in vote has begun to determine whether 500 editorial, video, design, photo and social-media staff across 28 print and digital brands will be represented by the Writers Guild of America, East.
Hearst, whose publications include Esquire, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar and Car & Driver, declined to comment. “We’re confident we’re going to win,” a spokesman for the WGAE told Media Ink.
It’s a situation that Hearst has worked hard to avoid. In April, the company announced it would make no cuts to staff at its newspapers, magazines and TV holdings, and gave 1 percent pay hikes to accommodate the hardship of working through the pandemic.
Last week, Hearst Magazines President Troy Young and Chief Content Officer Kate Lewis may have scored a few points by raiding Condé Nast to hire Samira Nasr from Vanity Fair to be the new editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar — marking the first black woman to head a top fashion title.
But the moves may also be too little, too late. The union blindsided Hearst Magazines when it announced in November that the “overwhelming majority” of its 500 staffers had signed cards stating they wanted the Writers Guild to represent them at the bargaining table.
Young and Lewis had rankled many staffers for seemingly favoring digital over the much larger print side. There was likewise unrest over management’s failure to back former Esquire Editor-in-Chief Jay Fielden on a controversial story about alleged sexually predatory behavior by Hollywood director Bryan Singer.
Because of restrictions due to the coronavirus, the vote is being conducted entirely by mail. Ballots must be postmarked by July 13, and results of the vote are to be revealed no later than July 20.
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