As the 73rd National Book Awards kicked off at the swanky Cipriani Wall Street in New York City, unionized HarperCollins employees took their strike to the sidewalks surrounding the venue. As guests lined up to grace the NBA's red carpet, they were greeted by HC union members who offered information on worker rights, fair wages, and buttons to show support for their cause.
Employees in the HC union have been on an indefinite strike since Nov. 10 after working without a contract since April. Negotiations with the publisher reportedly broke down over raising base pay for workers, said Local 2110 UAW president Olga Brudastova. The publisher has been radio silent since and has not initiated another round of negotiations, she added.
"We have not heard from HarperCollins," said Brudastova, "and we were the last ones to present a comprehensive proposal." She added" "They rejected it and they didn't initiate another meeting."
As PW previously reported, HarperCollins executives sent a company-wide memo to employees explaining that they were unable to reach a bargaining agreement with their union employees. The company shared that it has “implemented plans to ensure that operations continue uninterrupted during a potential strike.”
Recently released financials for the company's quarter ended September 30 reveal that revenue has declined by 11% after two years of solid growth. The company's earnings also dropped by 54%, to $39 million.
Last month, HC announced that an unspecified number of jobs were eliminated at the publisher to cut costs. Those cuts included six union members, the union said. The union has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board in response to HC's failure to strike a deal.
This year's National Book Awards returned to an in-person event after two years of virtual ceremonies.