Image Comics has declined a request by union organizers to voluntarily recognize Comic Book Workers United, an effort to unionize the independent comics publisher. The publisher has instead initiated the formal process of holding a vote by Image Comics staff to determine if they want to be represented by the CBWU and the Communications Workers of America.

This is the latest development at Image Comics after a group of 10 employees announced on November 1 that they have launched an effort to form a union at the comics house. Despite CBWU’s appeal to Image Comics management to voluntarily recognize the union and bypass a vote, the company said it intends to go forward with the election process.

In a statement, the company said that last week "the Communications Workers of America (CWA) filed a representation petition with the National Labor Relations Board asking to hold a secret-ballot election so that eligible members of the Image Comics office staff can determine if they want the CWA to represent them in their employment with Image. The NLRB is currently reviewing that petition to determine when that election will be held, where it will take place, and who can vote."

The Image statement continued: “Everyone at Image is committed to working through this process, and we are confident that the resolution to these efforts will have positive long-term benefits."

However, in response to questions from PW, CBWU called the Image Comics response “disappointing,” emphasizing that an election was “unnecessary.” In an email, CBWU told PW that Image Comics has 12 employees (out of a staff of 21 employees) who would be eligible for union representation. 10 of those eligible staff have already signed on as union supporters in the CBWU’s original launch statement.

In a statement released in response to Image’s move to hold an election, CBWU said, “Image Comics has failed to formally acknowledge our request for voluntary recognition. We are interpreting that lack of formal response, coupled with a Twitter post the company made indicating their intention to force us into a totally unnecessary election, as a denial of our request. This is disappointing, given that 10 of the 12 eligible staff members have already voted to form and publicly support our union, but we are strong in our principles and the pending election changes nothing.”

The CBWU statement continued: “It is not too late for voluntary recognition to happen. We are asking our community of supporters to continue emailing, writing, and tweeting that Image Comics can still voluntarily recognize the CBWU.”