Contact: Olga Brudastova, Local 2110 UAW
Email: [email protected]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 5, 2022, New York, NY__Unionized employees of HarperCollins Publishers voted by 99% to authorize a strike if the publisher does not agree to a fair contract.
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, improved family leave benefits, a greater commitment to diversifying staff, and stronger union protection.
The mainly women workers average $55,000 annually, with a starting salary of $45,000. Many employees cite pressure to work extra hours without additional compensation. The company, one of the top five book publishers globally, reported record-setting profits in the past two years.
“Most of us earn low salaries that are unlivable in major cities like New York and Boston,” said Laura Harshberger, a Senior Production Editor in Children’s Books and the Union Chairperson. “Our compensation doesn’t reflect our education and skills, or our contributions to the financial success of the company.”
Last year, HarperCollins absorbed the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) Books and Media division. The union is disputing the company’s refusal to include former HMH Boston-based employees in the bargaining unit or to recognize the seniority of former HMH New York-based staff who now work for HarperCollins.
“I worked at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for two years before HarperCollins bought my division in 2021,” said Carly Katz, Audio Coordinator. “The company’s current offer isn’t even coming close to accounting for the current rate of inflation. If they can buy a whole division and still have record setting profits, they can raise salaries to match the cost of living.”
The union also cites the lack of racial and ethnic diversity at the company, attributing this to historically low wages and the lack of real commitment to diversifying.
“All of our proposals are to make HarperCollins a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace,” Harshberger stated. “The company says publicly it supports diversifying the industry but management is refusing to meaningfully address the low pay rates or codify policy changes in our union contract. Our members are tired of empty gestures. They want meaningful change.”
“Our strike vote shows that the company needs to take our demands for better compensation and union rights seriously,” said Stephanie Guerdan, an Associate Editor in Children’s Books who has worked at HarperCollins since 2017. “Our members are prepared to strike for a fair contract if they have to.”
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 Professonal 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 many publishers in other countries have unions, and our counterparts at newspapers and magazines in the U.S. are organized.
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.