As might be expected, the strike by unionised employees at HarperCollins in New York on 20 July was a distinctly literary affair. Staffers harnessed their creative skills to produce an entertaining variety of banners which they held aloft as they marched up and down the sidewalk outside the company’s offices in lower Manhattan. One read: Where the Wild Things are Underpaid. Another said: A Series of Unfortunate Salaries. Another read: SPEW – Society for Production Editorial Welfare.
But there are serious issues at stake. Employees handed out flyers which read: “We have been bargaining for a union contract since December 2021, but the company will not agree to a fair offer. HarperCollins reported record-breaking profits in the past two years but we average only $55,000 per year and our starting salaries are as low as $45,000. These numbers do not reflect our contribution to the company’s success.
‘HarperCollins claims to be committed to diversity, equity and inclusion but has rejected union proposals that would codify this. We want meaningful change not empty gestures. HarperCollins won’t agree to basic union security rights, despite overwhelming support among members. Our union was formed 80 years ago and it’s time for the company to stop union busting.”
Around 100 members of staff joined the strike and on social media video posts some can be heard chanting: “Record profits, stolen wages”.
HarperCollins US said it would not comment on negotiations.