Public radio from Western Michigan University 102.1 NPR News | 89.9 Classical WMUK
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Support your public radio station. Give to WMUK now!!!

Workers at HarperCollins Publishers begin strike

HarperCollins employees on a one-day strike earlier this summer. Workers have been in negotiations with the company since December 2021.
Spencer Platt
/
Getty Images
HarperCollins employees on a one-day strike earlier this summer. Workers have been in negotiations with the company since December 2021.

Updated November 10, 2022 at 3:47 PM ET

Union members at HarperCollins, one of the largest publishers in the country, started an indefinite strike today. Workers and supporters gathered outside the company's New York City offices this morning to make their demands.

The action comes after a drawn out negotiation process, with workers asking for higher wages, stronger commitments to diversifying staff and better family leave. The approximately 250 unionized workers are represented by UAW 2110, and include people in design, marketing, publicity and sales. These employees have been working without a contract since April.

"What we're asking for is a fair wage," said Stephanie Guerdan, associate editor at HarperCollins Children's Books and shop steward at the HarperCollins Union.

In the months leading up to the strike, the messaging from the workers has centered on meager pay while the company reported record profits in 2021. According to a recent statement, the average salary for HarperCollins employees is $55,000. The minimum salary is $45,000.

"None of that is an amount you can live on in New York City," said Guerdan who added that the company is insisting that employees should be able to commute into the Manhattan offices at least one day a week.

A spokesperson for HarperCollins, which is owned by News Corp, sent a statement that read "HarperCollins has agreed to a number of proposals that the United Auto Workers Union is seeking to include in a new contract. We are disappointed an agreement has not been reached and will continue to negotiate in good faith."

The striking workers are asking authors, agents and freelancers to withhold any new business with the company – but to continue to work on any existing agreements or contracts.

A number of authors and booksellers have pledged their support for the strike on Twitter, including Elise Bryant, who wrote "As a HarperCollins author (and former teacher union member), I stand in solidarity with the @hcpunion. There are so many brilliant people who work so hard to make our books happen, and they deserve a fair contract and living wage."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Andrew Limbong is a reporter for NPR's Arts Desk, where he does pieces on anything remotely related to arts or culture, from streamers looking for mental health on Twitch to Britney Spears' fight over her conservatorship. He's also covered the near collapse of the live music industry during the coronavirus pandemic. He's the host of NPR's Book of the Day podcast and a frequent host on Life Kit.