HarperCollins Union has been on strike since November 10, 2022 and have been working without a contract since April. The workers are demanding better pay, diversity fairness, better family leave policies and better union protections.
More than 500 authors have signed a letter of support for the HarperCollins Union.
We stand with the people who mold and champion our work and ask that they be compensated justly and fairly for their labor. Our hope is that HarperCollins will not be satisfied with meeting an industry standard that is far too low to retain top talent.
In November, more than 150 literary agents from top firms signed an open letter in support of the strikers and pledged not to submit any new books to HarperCollins until the strike is resolved.
There are approximately 250 workers who are on strike and they come from various departments at HarperCollins, including editorial, design, marketing, and more.
The letter from the authors acknowledges the negative impact that the strike has on book releases and book sales.
We express deep concern about the long-term impact on our books and careers if the strike continues. Your refusal to reach an agreement with the union hurts us, your creators.
The challenges that the HarperCollins Union workers face are endemic throughout the publishing industry, which has relied on workers’ passion for books to offset low pay and crushing schedules.
The publishing industry also remains glaringly lacking in racial diversity. Workers of color who lack the financial support that their more privileged peers enjoy can’t sustain themselves with low-paying jobs and are therefore pushed out. The HarperCollins Union is asking for a raise in wages that would raise the company’s salary minimum to just $50,000.
Management has shown no signs of budging and it seems that they have no intention of meeting their workers at the bargaining table. According to senior production editor Laura Harshberger,
What we’ve been hearing from the inside is that Brian Murray [Harper’s CEO] is hoping that our strike fund runs out of money soon and that we’ll be desperate to return to work with no changes to our contract.
HarperCollins has reported record-setting profits in the past two years. Strikers say they have not heard from the company since November 23.
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As the strike continues, the workers have made it clear that they will keep fighting until they win. As book lovers themselves, they know how important it is to make the publishing industry a better, more equitable, more sustainable place, and the HarperCollins Union is determined to play its part in getting there.
We are fighting for the bare minimum–a living wage for all workers–and yet the C-suite class is treating us like we are asking for the moon, that we are selfish and greedy, Harshberger said. We know the reality. We deserve to be paid a living wage and for our labor to be valued fairly.