HarperCollins US resolves dispute against background of tough figures

HarperCollins US has reached a settlement in its long-running dispute with junior and middle management staff.  The agreement is described as “tentative” and is with the employee union, Local 2110 of the United Auto Workers.

The union says that the agreement calls for unspecified increases to minimum salaries, which currently start at $45,000. The new deal also includes a one-time, $1,500 lump sum bonus to be paid to employees from the union’s bargaining unit once the contract is ratified. The contract will extend through December 31, 2025.

The news comes shortly after HC parent company News Corp. released financial results for the quarter ended December 31, 2022 which showed earnings fall 52% at the publisher, coming in at $51 million, down from $107 million in the comparable quarter a year ago. Sales dropped 14%, to $531 million.

These figures tally with some uncomfortable stats from the Association of American Publishers (AAP) which show that the pandemic honeymoon – when consumers turned to books for solace, escape and education during the various lockdowns – is now well and truly over.  The AAP reports total net book sales in 2022 in the US dropped 6.4%, to $12.65 billion, compared to 2021.  The figures represent sales of 1,372 publishers and distributed clients.

In December, the AAP reports total net book sales down 10%, to $995.9 million while sales of adult books fell 6.5%, to $492.3 million, and sales of children’s/YA fell 6.3%, to $206.4 million.

But HarperCollins US will be pleased that the dispute with staff is over and can now devote all its resources to tackling the post-pandemic slowdown.