March 29, 2019 – Digital journalists at Fortune magazine announced a campaign for union recognition on March 28, becoming the latest in a slew of news organizations where workers are seeking the protections that come with a union. Employees of the magazine’s print department – comprising 41 percent of the magazine’s staff – have been members of New York local of The NewsGuild-CWA for decades.
The digital employees sought voluntary union recognition from the company, but management immediately rejected the request, despite “an overwhelming majority of Fortune’s online editorial staff signed cards in support of unionizing,” workers said. Petitions of support were also signed by NewsGuild members at Fortune and Time magazines.
Employees say they are seeking to erase the artificial divide between the print and digital publications that the company is enforcing. “As management encourages its employees to break down the digital/print divide in our coverage, it is time for it to recognize equal protections for all workers,” they wrote.
Fortune magazine was sold by the Meredith Corporation, which also owned Time and several other publications, to Fortune Media Group Holdings in December 2018.
At the time, the new owner, Chatchaval Jiaravanon, said he looked forward to working with the Guild and honoring the union contract, the NewsGuild of New York reported.
The workers seeking union recognition released the following statement:
“Fortune magazine is an essential voice in American journalism. We, the staff who work predominantly on editorial digital content for Fortune, are proud to work here, and want to ensure that Fortune continues to excel while valuing the contributions of all its employees for years to come.
“To safeguard our rights as workers and sustain the magazine’s reputation going forward, we have decided to join our NewsGuild colleagues, at Fortune and at other vital outlets like the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Associated Press, and The Nation — and including newly unionized publications like the New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the New Republic.
“Yet Fortune’s management has refused our request to be recognized as a collective body. This is surprising to us, since an overwhelming majority of Fortune’s online editorial staff signed cards in support of unionizing, in addition to support petitions signed by NewsGuild members of both Fortune and Time magazines.
“Our peers at Fortune that write predominantly for the print magazine have been covered by the NewsGuild for decades. As management encourages its employees to break down the digital/print divide in our coverage, it is time for it to recognize equal protections for all workers.
“As we enter a new era as a standalone company, we hope to unite as a collective union.”