HarperCollins Strike Update

The HarperCollins Union remains on strike since walking off the job on November 10, 2022, with no end in sight.

In late November 2022, HarperCollins CEO Brian Murray wrote an open letter to authors and agents who’ve supported the strike: ‘‘While we don’t typically comment on negotiations, I feel we owe you a response and want to share some additional background.’’ He defended the com­pany’s salary and benefit offerings, pointing to raises in employee pay and bonuses and time-off policies, and saying their ‘‘current compensation offerings are consistent with our peers in the pub­lishing industry. During recent negotiations, we proposed a fair and reasonable pay structure, in­cluding increases to entry level salaries. Based on publicly available information, HarperCollins’s proposed compensation increases would provide for a higher starting salary than any other major New York publisher.’’ He says the United Auto Workers’s demands ‘‘are many and far reaching’’ and ‘‘fail to account for the market dynamics of the publishing industry and our responsibility to meet the financial demands of all our business stakeholders.’’

He also says workers ‘‘should have a choice when it comes to union dues. The United Auto Workers is demanding to include a Union Secu­rity clause in their contract. Such clauses typi­cally require substantial union dues to be paid by all UAW-represented employees, including every person who may later be hired into a union job, and would require HarperCollins, at the union’s demand, to ter­minate any employee who does not pay them their dues. We strongly believe that each Harp­erCollins employee should have the right to make their own choice whether or not to pay dues to the United Auto Workers.’’

Murray expresses disappointment that

an agreement has not yet been reached and we have not heard directly from union leadership about the contract since our last bargaining session. It is disheartening that the UAW has chosen to mischaracterize the status of negotiations through social media posts, when in reality the company extended an offer to union leadership to meet again before the strike began but was not taken up on this offer. HarperCollins remains ready and willing to continue our negotiations with the United Auto Workers and to reach agreement on a contract that is fair to both employees and the company.

The complete letter may be read here.

Murray also sent a memo to staff that read,

Despite negotiating for more than a year, putting forth numerous proposals, and meeting more than ten times, our two sides remain far apart. While we continue to have an open door for the union to return to the bargaining table, it is possible we will not reach an agreement soon. I am writing to you today because I have seen a great deal of misinformation circulating on social me­dia and I believe our employees should hear directly from the company about its busi­ness decisions…. While we hope that mat­ters with the union can be resolved soon, we are preparing for a protracted strike and a challenging book market ahead.

In response to Murray’s letter, the Union announced plans for a rally to be held outside HarperCollins headquarters in New York on December 16, 2022, cohosted by SF writer R.F. Kuang and author Molly McGhee.

Union chair Laura Harshberger responded to the letter: ‘‘By issuing this statement, Brian Murray and the rest of News Corp confirmed for us that our strike is working and that the support of our strike from the publishing community, in­cluding authors, agents, and booksellers, cannot be denied or neglected.’’

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