HarperCollins Workers Strike

Union plans a one-day event over pay, diversity commitments

The HarperCollins union will strike July 20 to demand “fair wages, stronger diversity commitments, and union rights.” This decision follows a nearly unanimous vote by the 250+ union members to authorize the strike amid ongoing contract negotiations. HarperCollins is the only unionized Big Five publisher. It’s been so for more than 80 years.

“We want an agreement with HarperCollins that will create a more accessible, equitable, and just workplace,” said Laura Harshberger, a senior production editor in children’s books and union chairperson, in a press release. “We have a mandate from our members to strike because the company refuses to agree to a fair contract for the employees that make it so successful …Thousands of supporters in the publishing industry joined our members in signing a petition to the company urging them to settle a fair contract.  We have no choice but to escalate our action by setting this one-day strike.”

The press release notes that the union and management have been negotiating since December 2021. The unionized employees—representing more than 250 employees in editorial, sales, publicity, design, legal and marketing— are currently working without a contract.

One now-former employee tweeted that she was leaving HarperCollins “for all the reasons that @hcpunion outlines in their press release, as well as broader industry issues and working conditions that make publishing an untenable career path.”

Union members and supporters are asking HarperCollins authors and consumers to not boycott the publishing house or refrain from conducting normal business on July 20 “so that our absence is felt.” Online support has been overwhelmingly positive.

“HarperCollins has been a union shop for the past 80 years, and @hcpunion workers have just voted to authorize what would be the *first* strike in their union’s history. As an author and a worker, I’m sending them lots of love and solidarity!” tweeted labor journalist Kim Kelly.

“My editorial, art, and publicity teams at HarperCollins have always had my back,” wrote author Mike Chen. “I fully support this one-day strike. They deserve fair wages.”

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Katie Smith

Katie Smith is a Philadelphia-based writer. Find her on Instagram @saddy_yankee for cat pics.

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