More than 100 employees of the New Yorker and two other Condè Nast publications staged a protest Tuesday evening calling for fair pay and job security outside publishing executive Anna Wintour’s $12.5million home in Greenwich Village.
The group was made up of unionized staff members and fact checkers for the weekly magazine along with staff from Condè Nast publications Ars Technica and and Pitchfork.
They marched from the New York University Campus at Washington Square Park to Wintour’s townhouse on Sullivan Street chanting: ‘Bosses where Prada, workers get nada!’
The demonstration came after the New Yorker Union released a list of demands Monday, saying they were ‘on the verge of a strike’ after two and half years of bargaining.
More than 100 staffers at the New Yorker, along with two other Condè Nast publications staged a protest Tuesday outside the Greenwich Village home of Anna Wintour calling for fair wages, among other demands
The protestors chanted ‘Bosses wear Prada, workers get nada’ outside Wintour’s $12.5 million townhouse (pictured)
The protest began at the New York University campus, and was organized on behalf of the NewsGuild of New York, which represents staff at the magazine in its negotiations with Condè Nast
The protest represented the highest-profile break down in talks between the New Yorker Union and Condè Nast since they began in 2018 shortly after roughly 100 of the magazine’s staff, including copy editors and fact checkers organized with the NewsGuild.
Wintour is widely seen as the figurehead of the international publishing house, although she doesn’t directly oversee the New Yorker
Chief among the demands are fair pay, job security and health care benefits, with the union saying that some members make as little as $42,000, and with some who have been with the publication for more than 20 years making less that $60,000.
‘People from a range of backgrounds can’t afford to work there,’ Genevieve Bormes, an associated cover editor at the New Yorker, told the New York Times.
She said she makes $53,000 a year, and that her salary was $33,000 when she started at The New Yorker in 2016.
Recent bargaining talks saw the company offering a floor of $54,500 for workers, Natalie Meade, a fact checker and chairwoman of NewGuild’s New Yorker unit, told the Times.
A spokeswoman for the publisher said there had been progress in recent negotiations, the outlet also reported, adding ‘We hope to have a contract soon so that real wage increases find their way to our union employees.’
The union is calling for a base pay of $60,000.
An email volley between the union and the company Monday night saw Condè Nast attempt to put a stop to the protest, with it writing, ‘Targeting an individual’s private home and publicly sharing its location is not acceptable,’ the Times reported.
The New Yorker Union replied that what the publisher was doing what ‘what looks like an unlawful attempt to discourage protected concerted activity.’
Staff at the New Yorker have been in talks with its publisher for nearly three years
Much of the magazine’s writers are freelancers and as contract workers are unable to unionize. The New Yorker Union asked that they not file articles for the magazine.
While Wintour does not directly oversee The New Yorker – author David Remnick has led the magazine since 1998 – as global editorial director for Condè Nast she is the most prominent figurehead of its publisher.
Meade said the union chose her home as the site of the protest because she is seen as a ‘proxy,’ the Times reported.
‘What’s happening at The New Yorker is not necessarily happening in a vacuum,’ she said.
Tuesday’s protest was the most direct action taken by the New Yorker Union since its members walked off the job for a day in January. It also comes after it, along with its fellow NewsGuild units at Ars Technica and Pitchfork authorized a strike in January, according to the Times.
All three are seeking a first-time contract with the publisher.
The demonstration came after the New Yorker Union posted a list of demands online Monday, saying they were ‘on the verge of a strike.’
The protests also come as NewsGuild of New York’s meteoric success in recent years in organizing news rooms has come with drawbacks, as it burns through cash at an unsustainable rate, according to Vanity Fair, also a Condè Nast publication.
Its reserves have dropped from $11million in 2016 to just over $5million in 2020, the union reported, and as a result it’s asking members with contracts to increase their dues, which has rankled some Newsguild workers at Reuters and the New York Times, who say they are essentially bankrolling the union’s efforts elsewhere.
‘The Guild expects some major organizing fights ahead, including a strike at Condé Nast, and they want enough money to keep up the fight,’ Times reporter Nicholas Confessore wrote in an email that has been circulating the newsroom.
‘It is not clear to me why the Guild has been deficit spending at such a high burn rate for so long and is only now seeking to bring income in line with expenses.’
The problem appears to stem from the condition, Vanity Fair reported, that the guild’s members only start paying dues to the union once they have obtained a contract, which as evidenced by its dealings with Condè Nast, can take years.