Fortune employees hold one-day walkout

Fortune employees hold one-day walkout
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Editorial staffers of Fortune Magazine walked off the job Tuesday in a surprise one-day protest amid union negotiations with management.

The walkout started at 9 a.m. Eastern, when 34 of the magazine’s editorial employees in New York stopped working or responding to management requests.

The action was designed “to expose management’s bad-faith in negotiations,” the union said in a statement.

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“We surprised them this morning,” said Jake Meth, a commentary editor at Fortune magazine, and unit chair of its union, which is part of the NewsGuild of New York, local 31003, of the Communications Workers of America.'

“We were not trying to extract something for not walking out,” Meth added. “Our goal here was to send a message to management that they are not bargaining with us in good faith and that they’ve been drawing out the bargaining process for way too long, so hopefully they will come back to the table with a more cooperative attitude.”

A member of Fortune’s management team said the company was caught off guard by the walkout.

“We’re surprised and disappointed by the action the Union has decided to take today,” the person said in an emailed statement. “Fortune has been bargaining with the Union in good faith, and will continue to do so going forward.”

The union felt it had no other choice at this point but to stage a walkout, Meth said, noting that the current round of negotiations began in 2019.

“We’ve tried a lot of things in a respectful way, and they have not responded well in the bargaining process and said no to most of our ideas,” he said.

Fortune may be “surprised and disappointed” by the walkout, Meth added, but that reaction is itself “not encouraging.”

“The point of the action is to get us moving towards a more serious discussion about improving everyone's work lives and jobs here at Fortune,” he added. “It would be much more fruitful if they said they understand why the employees did this because they understand the frustrations and are willing to meet with us and get things done.”

The union outlined some of its concerns in unfair labor practices complaints filed Tuesday with the National Labor Relations Board, Meth said.

Among the formal complaints, he said, was Fortune’s creation of a management-dominated diversity council, its request that workers keep their salaries secret, and the implementation of a new performance evaluation system without union input, all of which violate either labor law or the workers' status quo rights.

The Fortune Union dispute is not the only labor conflict in U.S. newsrooms. Earlier in the month, six House and Senate Democrats sent a letter to Gannett, the largest U.S. newspaper chain, decrying what it called anti-union efforts at New Jersey media brands, The Record, its online counterpart NorthJersey.com, The Daily Record and New Jersey Herald.