NEW YORK — Striking union members at HarperCollins Publishers have approved a tentative agreement reached last week and will return to work Tuesday, ending a walkout that lasted more than three months and became the center of an ongoing debate about salaries in the industry.
More than 200 members, from editorial assistants to publicists and designers, of Local 2110 of the United Auto Workers union had been working without a contract since last spring. They went on strike in early November, with wages, workplace diversity and union protection among the issues. Notably, the union called for raising the entry level salary from $45,000 to $50,000.
The union announced the ratification Thursday.
“The @hcpunion has a strong, fair contract, and I am very, very proud,” tweeted union chair Laura Harshberger, a senior production editor in the children’s books division.
“We are pleased that the agreement was ratified,” a HarperCollins statement reads. “We are excited to move forward together.”
Under the new terms, reached after HarperCollins agreed in late January to negotiations with a federal mediator, annual starting pay will increase to $47,500 upon ratification, and rise to $50,000 by the beginning of 2025. In addition, full-time employees in the union will receive lump sum payments of $1,500.
The contract also allows for more time for union members to meet during work hours, requires that a “welcome letter” from the union be included in job packets for eligible new hires and establishes a joint labor-management committee “to discuss issues of concern to either party.”
HarperCollins, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, is the only major New York publisher with a union. Hundreds of authors and agents had backed the striking HarperCollins workers, and, in recent weeks, both Macmillan and Hachette Book Group had announced they were raising starting salaries, which range from $45,000-$50,000 among the larger companies.
The agreement came amid HarperCollins’ plan to reduce its North American workforce by 5% through layoffs and attrition. The publisher has cited reduced revenues over the past year and higher costs.