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WGA East Files 3rd NLRB Complaint Against Hearst Magazines

Union claims Hearst implemented uneven wage increases while pulling company-wide percentage boosts from contract talks

The Writers Guild of America East has filed its third unfair labor practice charge against Hearst Magazines as lengthy contract talks continue to drag on.

The WGAE and Hearst Union claim in the National Labor Relations Board filing that Hearst “unilaterally implemented” uneven wage increases for some employees while the union’s negotiating committee was bargaining for percentage wage increases for all employees. In a statement, WGAE and Hearst Union said they were “deeply frustrated that Hearst management continues its bad faith bargaining practices.”

“Last month management conducted a round of inconsistent and uneven ‘merit increases’ — which gave some unit members absolutely nothing — in an ill-conceived attempt to withdraw their own previously proposed language that would have guaranteed everyone in the unit a minimum raise this year,” the statement said. “This ‘bait and switch’ tactic is unfair and regressive. We have filed yet another unfair labor practice violation — our 3rd so far — to reflect our disappointment and anger.”

Hearst Union represents more than 500 employees at 28 Hearst publications, including Esquire, Men’s Health and Town & Country. The union was formed in summer 2020 after Hearst filed a motion with the NLRB to break up the union into six separate bargaining units, which was rejected.

Nearly three years have passed since the union was formed, and talks between its negotiating committee and management have not led to a tentative agreement. Last October, Hearst Union published an open letter accusing Hearst management of not bargaining in good faith with a proposal that pays workers not living in New York or California 10% less and refuses to pay more to workers filling in for staff on parental leave or include extra pay for sensitivity reads or translations.

Now, the union accuses Hearst of pulling company-wide annual percentage wage increases from its proposal, taking a common element of union contracts designed to keep employee pay ahead of rising inflation and living costs.

“We are fed up with Hearst’s repeated disrespect of our union and the bargaining process. We urge the leaders of this company — who continue to boast of record-breaking profits — to bargain in good faith so we can reach an agreement on a contract that pays the hardworking employees of this company a decent wage. For two years we have approached the bargaining table eager to negotiate and for two years we’ve been met with contempt,” the union said.

TheWrap has reached out to Hearst for comment and will update with any reply.

Hearst isn’t the only media company to get hit with an unfair labor practice charge by WGA East. Last week, the union filed a charge against Bustle Digital Group after it shut down the rebooted Gawker and laid off 39 unionized employees, including three that were significantly involved with Bustle’s WGAE-affiliated union.