Before the Met Gala, Condé Nast Union Nixes Picketing and Strikes a Contract Deal

After threatening to walk off their jobs and to picket outside of Monday’s Met Gala, hundreds of Condé Nast union members have struck a new contract deal with the company’s top brass.

Shouting and sign-carrying picketers would not have been a welcome sight outside of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for Anna Wintour, Condé Nast’s chief content officer and global editorial director. A 25-year trustee at The Met, she is co-chairing the celebrity-studded extravaganza with Zendaya, Bad Bunny and Jennifer Lopez.

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In an email that went out to employees at 3:30 a.m. — half an hour after the Zoom bargaining session wrapped up Monday, the company’s chief people officer Stan Duncan said, “On behalf of the management bargaining committee and leaders throughout the business, we are pleased to come to tentatively agreed terms on a contract with the union.” The email was shared with WWD.

While a few Condé Nast-owned titles like The New Yorker and Wired have their own unions, the latest one represents multiple media entities including GQ, Allure, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Glamour, Bon Appétit, Epicurious, Self, Teen Vogue, Them, Condé Nast Traveler, Ars Technica, Wired, Pitchfork and Architectural Digest, as well as staffers in audience development, commerce and video.

A Condé Nast spokesperson declined comment Monday.

Announcing the deal, Vanity Fair’s social media manager and Condé Union bargaining team member Mark Alan Burger flagged the group’s pledge “to take any necessary action to get a contract, including walking off the job ahead of the Met Gala, and all the actions we took this week, pushed the company to really negotiate.

“We made every effort this week to meet with them and get this contract completed and we’re thrilled to say we did it,” he said.

Union supporters had made their plan clear in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Saturday that read, “We’re doing whatever it takes: Meet us at the table or meet us at the Met on Monday.”

After winning its card count in September 2022, the Condé Union posted on the social media platform that it had been officially recognized as a union after a six-month wait. “The era of ‘prestige paying the bills’ is over,” the supporters posted.

There are 540 editorial workers in the Condé Nast union, which is affiliated with the NewsGuild of New York. The union will vote to ratify the contract in the coming week, according to the NewsGuild of New York. Globally, the media conglomerate has 5,500 employees.

The new contract would secure a minimum starting salary of $61,500, and end the “two-tier permalance system,” referring to long-term freelance. Union members have bargained for expanded bereavement leave and two more weeks of family leave (for 14 weeks total), guaranteed comp time after 40 hours of work and conversion of sub-contracted employees to permanent staff among other demands, according to the NewsGuild of New York. In addition, $3.6 million in total wage increases was cited by the NewsGuild of New York as a highlight of the contract. But how that figure would break out is said to be still under consideration, according to someone, who was familiar with the negotiations.

As is the case with many other media outlets, Condé Nast has had its share of layoffs. Chief executive officer Roger Lynch announced the latest round — 270 people representing about 5 percent of the company’s workforce — in November.

The guild said Monday that it had “successfully negotiated” the terms of the layoffs Monday, which included eight weeks of severance with all applicable wage increases, continued employment through ratification, accrued and unused vacation time paid out and a layoff moratorium through the end of July among other demands. Currently, Condé Nast is believed to be only “back filling” existing vacant posts versus advertising job positions.

The union has used other key pop culture events to draw attention to its efforts. Earlier this year supporters held an Oscar-themed rally complete with a red carpet outside of Condé’s One World Trade corporate office in lower Manhattan on the day that the 2024 Oscar nominations were announced. A similar scenario at The Met would not have just attracted global publicity, but also the attention of scores of celebrities. Vogue employees were said to not be on board with that plan, given that Condé is a corporate sponsor of The Met’s “Sleeping Beauty: Reawakening Fashion” and of the Met Gala.

Duncan informed staffers, “We are happy to have a contract that reflects and supports our core values — our content and journalism; our commitment to diversity and professional development; our industry-leading hiring practices, and our competitive wages and benefits.”

He concluded, “We look forward to the ratification of the contract by its members.”

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