Hundreds Of WGA East Members Stage Walkout At Hearst Magazines Media: “So Many Of Us Pour Our Heart And Soul Into These Brands”

Hundreds of WGA East members employed at Hearst Magazines Media staged a half-day walkout and rally today to demand a fair contract. The walkout at four of the company’s offices – in New York City, Easton, PA, Ann Arbor, MI, and Birmingham, AL – comes after more than two years of negotiations for a first-time contract. The last scheduled day of negotiations is March 28.

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According to the guild, they’re seeking “fair wage increases, better severance and strong anti-harassment protections,” among other demands. Watch some video of the walkout below.

The guild represents some 500 of the publishing giant’s editorial, video, design and photo staff at more than 25 brands including Esquire, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country, Good Housekeeping, Popular Mechanics, Car & Driver, Oprah Daily, Seventeen, Elle, Redbook and Woman’s Day.

“We’re walking out today because more than two years is too long to wait for a fair union contract,” said Joey Capparella, a senior editor at Car and Driver. “We need to show Hearst management that our members care about higher salary minimums, better severance protections, diversity in our hiring practices, and the right to have a union representative present in meetings about harassment – all of which are items that management refuses to agree on.”

Jennifer Leman, a senior features editor at Hearst’s Enthusiast Group, which includes Popular Mechanics, said: “So many of us pour our heart and soul into these brands – they don’t call us the Enthusiast Group for nothing – and we’re simply asking for that work to be fairly compensated. We’re walking out today because we know these brands cannot operate without us. It’s been two years since we first met management at the bargaining table, and we’re tired of their delays and excuses. We urge Hearst to bargain with us in good faith so we can finally secure a fair contract and get back to giving 100% to the jobs we love.”

Added Chris Michel, a senior editor at Country Living: “The Hearst workers in Birmingham are hopeful that this walkout will help upper management understand that their employees across the country are committed to getting a meaningful and fair contract as soon as possible. We stand in solidarity with our colleagues in New York, PA, Michigan, and with Hearst employees everywhere.”

Zach Lennon-Simon, a senior video editor at Delish, said: “For two years Hearst has stalled, lowballed and refused to bargain with us. Today we’re walking out because we’d like to remind Hearst what they are without our labor; nothing but a name.”

More than 300 members of the WGA East and WGA West, meanwhile, have signed a petition calling on Hearst “to immediately agree to a union contract that lives up to its status as a leader in this industry.”

A spokesperson for Hearst Magazines told Deadline earlier this week, “We are committed to fostering a workplace where all employees feel supported. We’ve reached agreement on important issues and look forward to continuing to bargain in good faith and finalizing this process with a fair contract. Negotiations resume next week and we have offered future meeting dates.”

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