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Condé Nast Staffers Walk Out to Protest Lay Offs

The publisher has been accused of 'regressive bargaining' after announcing layoffs at the end of 2023

Condé Nast Staffers Walk Out to Protest Lay Offs

Hundreds of members of the Condé Nast union have walked off the job in protest of unlawful negotiation tactics.

The workers have accused the conglomerate – which publishes magazines like Vogue and GQ – of violating labor laws and leaving employees in the dark amid impending layoffs. 

An estimated 400 workers from Vogue, GQ, Allure, Architectural Digest, Bon Appétit, Condé Nast Traveler, Epicurious, Glamour, Self, and Teen Vogue held a 24-hour strike on Jan. 23.

Ben Dewey, the vice chair of the Condé Nast Entertainment unit, said the company had engaged in “regressive bargaining and breaking the law in bargaining by rescinding an offer that they had previously made around layoffs.”

“There’s so much solidarity that everybody is really looking out for their coworkers and willing to go on strike for this unfair way that the company is engaging in bargaining,” Dewey, a videographer, told The Hollywood Reporter

The walk-out intentionally coincided with the announcement of the 96th Academy Awards – the kind of event Condé Nast publications frequently cover in detail.   

“We just really want to show how much Condé relies on union members to cover big events like the Oscar nominations,” said Dewey.

Condé Nast CEO Roger Lynch announced in a November internal memo that the publisher would cut staff by 5% – the equivalent of 300 employees – over the following months. Lynch said the company would be “prioritizing cost reductions” by consolidating office space, closing currently open roles and “re-phasing certain long-term projects across the business.”

“There is no easy way to share this news and our focus will be on making this transition as easy as possible for our dedicated colleagues with enhanced severance packages and career service offerings,” wrote Lynch, per Variety.

At least 94 Condé Nast union workers would have been laid off and receive the same severance package as other terminated employees. The NewsGuild of NewYork, the overarching labor group to which the Condé Nast union belongs, has filed two complaints with the National Labor Relations Board since Lynch’s layoff announcement.

NewsGuild said staffers were not given any sense of who would be terminated and, when some went to the executive suits for more information, security guards monitored them as they asked executive vice president Cameron Bruce for an explanation, per WWD

“Media workers at Condé Nast are key to the company’s success and reputation for excellence,” said Susan DeCarava, president of The NewsGuild of New York, in a press release on Jan. 22. “They deserve for their work to be respected on the job and at the bargaining table. Guild members walked off the job today to remind management of their worth and urge company reps to bargain in good faith. We demand nothing less.”

Actress Anne Hathaway walked out of a Vanity Fair photoshoot on Jan. 23 after being made aware by her team of the walkout. 

SAG-AFTRA, the largest union of media professionals including actors and broadcasters, has endorsed the Condé Nast walkout.

Employers like Condé Nast are legally and morally obligated to bargain in good faith with their workers, so it’s alarming that Condé Nast executives are employing regressive, union-busting tactics and making unfair counter proposals,” the union wrote in a post on X on Jan. 23. “Our union demands that all workers have fair treatment, job security, and sustainable compensation including severance pay when applicable.” 

“We applaud these workers taking action to defend their livelihoods, and we encourage everyone to recognize the Condé Nast picket line and join us in supporting this promising new era of worker empowerment,” wrote SAG-AFTRA.

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