The Verso Books Guild US has ratified its union contract, the group announced this week on Twitter. The contract includes wage increases and better protections and benefits for its staffers, among other stipulations. It is, according to the union, the first organized labor contract in the book business to be successfully negotiated by the NewsGuild.

Among the stipulations secured are:

  • an 11% raise for the first year of the contract and a 14.6% average cumulative raise over three years as part of a new salary band system
  • a promotions system that requires Verso management to deliver criteria and standards for promotions in writing, which the union calls “close to binding”
  • affirmative action in the hiring process, and a role for “lead persons” in the hiring process
  • guaranteed job offers for permalancers and all union workers “if they work for 20 hours over a 6 month period of time,” with no leeway for contractors to fill vacant posts, and all freelancers doing bargaining unit work must consult with the Guild
  • in-office working hours are set by individual departments and ratified by management
  • parental leave is set at 16 weeks full pay and 10 weeks half pay, and a “strengthened” sabbatical policy allows for extended time off after five years, with “some pay”
  • the union can bargain over new, non-contractual policies introduced by management for 30-90 days, although management can then impose the policy without an agreement
  • the union may strike or withdraw its labor to attempt to resolve a grievance, although if it does so, it forfeits its right to arbitrate, and vice versa
  • the union has a voice in editorial discussions

“It is a contract we’re proud of, one produced by staff support and stubbornness, the commitments of our house and of the solidarity that you showed,” the union tweeted. “@VersoUnionUK are only beginning to negotiate their contract and we urge you to send them solidarity and your attention. Similarly, publishing workers at @hcpunion, @oupusaguild, and @DUPWorkersUnion are also negotiating contracts–we hope that together we can raise the bar for workers in publishing and for workers in general.”