Representatives for unionized HarperCollins employees announced October 17 that they will go on strike for a second time this year after more than 11 months of negotiations has failed to generate a new deal. The strike, authorized by Local 2110 of the UAW with a 95.1% vote, will take place Monday, November 7, if employees are unable to reach a contract with the publisher.
According to Local 2110, the union represents more than 250 employees in editorial, sales, publicity, design, legal, and marketing departments at HarperCollins. Negotiations for "higher pay, a greater commitment to diversifying staff and stronger union protection" began December 2021 and unionized employees have been working without a contract "since April 2022," according to a release from the union.
The planned November walkout will be an open-ended strike and the second authorized strike this year after a one-day strike on July 20 that saw unionized employees picketing in front of the publisher's offices over the continued failure of negotiations. “Once again, the members voted to authorize a strike because the company refuses to agree to a fair contract for the employees that make it so successful," said union chairperson Laura Harshberger in a press statement. Harshberger is a senior production editor in children’s books . "This time, our mandate is even stronger, with even greater participation across union membership,” she added.
The talks are continuing as HC has taken measures to cut costs. Last week, HC CEO Brian Murray said the company eliminated “a small number of positions” as part of an effort to operate more efficiently. The positions of six bargaining unit employees were eliminated in those cuts, and Local 2110 president Olga Brudastova called the timing of the cuts "suspicious" as it nearly coincided with their vote to strike.
"It was a complete surprise," said Brudastova, explaining that employees who were affected by the layoffs learned of decision before the union. She added, "We have in our contract a specific timeline when the union is supposed to receive the notice, which they failed to do."
Local 2110 recently filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board in response to its failed bargaining with HC. After months of failed talks, Brudastova called the situation between HarperCollins and its unionized employees "disheartening in terms of having a labor management relationship with them of any kind."
She added, "We hope that we can avoid the strike, but it's also up to the company. They know exactly what our priorities are and what we need to call the contract fair and to call the offer fair."
HarperCollins has had an employee union for more than 80 years.