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Editorial staffers at The Atlantic are forming a union

Summary List PlacementEditorial staffers at The Atlantic announced on Monday their intentions to form a union with the NewsGuild of New York, making the 164-year-old magazine the latest title to join a wave of media unionization in recent years.  About 85 members will make up the unit, including writers, producers,...

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Summary List Placement

Editorial staffers at The Atlantic announced on Monday their intentions to form a union with the NewsGuild of New York, making the 164-year-old magazine the latest title to join a wave of media unionization in recent years. 

About 85 members will make up the unit, including writers, producers, copy editors, art directors, and engineers, David A. Graham, a staff writer and member of the organizing committee, told Insider. About 85% have already signed union cards indicating their support, he said.

In an email to staffers following the announcement sent to Insider by a spokesperson, The Atlantic’s editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg said the company has “decided to work with the organizers of this effort on an agreement to voluntarily recognize the Atlantic editorial bargaining unit.”

Atlantic employees are joining the growing list of media workers to unionize, an industry-wide movement sparked by issues including coronavirus-related layoffs, stark financial pressures facing the media business, and fears about growing consolidation.

“We have faith in our leadership, but in a time of upheaval in our industry and nation, we also wish to ensure that all of the staffers who contribute to The Atlantic’s successes are justly rewarded for their labor and free to speak their mind on matters of concern,” the union said in mission statement

The statement said a union would allow staffers to “create a more equitable and diverse workplace that provides fair compensation and meaningful support to its workers, particularly its junior staff.”

“We all love The Atlantic, and we all take seriously our responsibility to be careful stewards of this great institution,” Goldberg said in the staff email. 

The Atlantic’s union effort comes during a complicated time for the storied magazine, which has distinguished itself with its health reporting and built a robust subscription business — but also laid off nearly 20% of staffers at the start of the pandemic.

Those layoffs came as a surprise to employees, who hoped their billionaire owner, Laurene Powell Jobs, would shield the outlet from cuts. After turning a modest profit when Powell Jobs took over in 2017, The Atlantic invested heavily and now operates at a loss, Digiday reported in October

Politico first reported last week that staffers at The Atlantic were mounting a union effort.

Journalists at Insider at Forbes recently went public with union drives, joining the ranks of publications like BuzzFeed, the Daily Beast, Vox, Vice, and Wired. More than 1,800 journalists unionized last year with the News Guild of New York and the Writers Guild of America East, up from 1,500 in 2019, Axios reported

The trend has led to stand-offs between journalists and managers at the negotiating table, including at the Condé Nast-owned New Yorker, where workers have threatened to strike as contract talks drag on; and at Fortune, where staffers in March digitally walked off the job for 24 hours to protest traffic goals and push for the company to institute diversity measures.

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