January 26, 2023, New York, NY__ HarperCollins Publishers finally agreed to enter mediation with the union, Local 2110 UAW. The union has been on strike since November 10, 2022, and have not heard directly from the company since their last bargaining session on November 2. The update was provided to the federal mediator assigned to negotiations, who previously invited both parties to resume negotiations.
“We are excited to have this opportunity to continue bargaining with HarperCollins and hope they finally are ready to put a fair offer on the table,” said Olga Brudastova, President of Local 2110 UAW. “We have been on strike for over two months at this point. It is time for us to resolve any outstanding differences and attempt to reset our relationship.”
The union, Local 2110 of the UAW, represents 250+ employees in editorial, sales, publicity, design, legal, and marketing departments. The union is bargaining for higher pay, a greater commitment to diversifying staff, and stronger union protection. Negotiations started in December 2021 and unionized employees have been working without a contract since April 2022.
Strikers plan two rallies next week to amplify the support they have been receiving from authors, agents, booksellers, politicians, and the labor movement at large: Tuesday, January 31, rally at 1 PM will be held outside HarperCollins offices in FiDi of Manhattan; and Thursday, February 2, rally also at 1 PM will be held outside News Corp offices in Midtown.
“We are not asking for much. Our demands are extremely reasonable,” said Laura Harshberger, a Senior Production Editor in Children’s Books and the Union Chairperson. “We see growing support from across the publishing industry and beyond that reassures us that what we are doing is right and worth fighting for. I am hopeful that entering mediation can lead to a fair contract and finally end the strike. But it is not over yet, because the ultimate goal is an agreement that addresses all of our demands.”
The union previously filed a number of Unfair Labor Practice charges against the company ranging from their refusal to provide information essential to negotiations, to layoffs announced when now-strikers were taking a strike authorization vote, to lying to the union about instituting a hiring freeze among bargaining unit positions. The charges are still pending review at the National Labor Relations Board.
HarperCollins employees have had a union for more than 80 years and it is one of the earliest unions of “white collar” workers in the country. It is part of Technical, Office and Professional Union UAW Local 2110. Contract negotiations with HarperCollins management began in December 2021 when a one-year pandemic extension of the contract was set to expire. Currently, HarperCollins is the only major book publisher in the U.S. to be unionized, though book publishers in other countries have unions.
Local 2110 UAW also represents workers at the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Columbia University, Film Forum, Teachers College, ACLU, Center for Reproductive Rights, The New Press, and many more. The union has a reputation for aggressive organizing and bargaining and progressive politics.