Why Condé Nast employees are unionizing: “Prestige doesn’t pay the bills”

Those who started their careers in high-end magazines anytime during the 2008 financial crisis largely accepted a system in which lineage was often the path to success and after-hours work was normal if you didn’t. had no private wealth. to support you in a system that offered little more than retail pay. For a long time there was a broad consensus that status was a legitimate form of compensation, than working in the industry which brought us Richard Avedon and “Frank Sinatra has a cold” compensated for the discomforts caused by having to live with five obnoxious musicians on Avenue C.

Those in their 20s and 30s now in junior and middle management positions at places like Condé Nast effectively have the worst of both worlds – insufficient pay and the vanished prestige that has come at the hands of digitalization.

Just days after Condé Nast’s announcement, more than 2,600 workers at a massive Amazon plant in Staten Island voted to form a union in what was seen as organized labor’s biggest victory in decades. . Over the past 40 years, the share of workers represented by a union has halved. But the white collars are more and more galvanized. Last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statisticseven though the number of unionized workers fell by 241,000, the highest rates of unionization are mainly found among professional workers—those in the fields of education, training and libraries.

Tightening job markets for doctoral students in higher education, another bastion of faded glamour, have led to a wave of unionization among graduate students. Last year, the National Labor Relations Council withdrew a decision this would have prohibited student workers at private universities from unionizing. Strikes followed at Columbia, Harvard and New York University. Again this week, graduate students from MIT voted for representation by the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.

Looked at from one angle, social media offers a desperate window into the lives of older writers, editors, stylists and others in contract creative fields, some of whom were well known in print magazines. iced and left New York, reduced, took hourly paid work, or used GoFundMe to cover health costs in the event of a serious illness.

“All workers know that as they get older, they risk management finding them less relevant,” Glamor writer Jenny Singer told me. “I am 28 years old and I have a part-time job to supplement my income. I wouldn’t be homeless without him, but it gives me peace. This salary is not at all sustainable if I wanted to have a child. A living wage means being able to have a family, to exist as an ordinary person who might have debts or who might be able to take care of an elderly member of the family. It doesn’t mean being an able-bodied 28-year-old male on your parents’ health insurance.

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