HarperCollins addresses stalled union negotiations

HarperCollins US CEO Brian Murray has written an open letter to authors and agents addressing details behind the publisher’s stalled negotiations with the union representing its striking workers, reports Publishers Weekly.

Unionised HarperCollins workers are into the 19th day of a strike. Murray’s letter comes after a number of authors and agents expressed public support for the union.

Responding to the union’s claims that salary and benefits packages are a sticking point in negotiations, Murray said HarperCollins believes that its ‘current compensation offerings are consistent with our peers in the publishing industry’, adding that during recent negotiations, the company proposed what it believes is a ‘fair and reasonable pay structure, including increases to entry level salaries’.

‘We are disappointed an agreement has not yet been reached, and we have not heard directly from union leadership about the contract since our last bargaining session,’ Murray wrote. ‘It is disheartening that the union has chosen to mischaracterize the status of negotiations through social media posts, when in reality the company extended an offer to union leadership to meet again before the strike began but was not taken up on this offer.’

UAW Local 2110, a union for technical, office and professional workers, represents more than 250 HarperCollins employees in the design, editorial, marketing, publicity and sales departments, who are currently working without a contract. Negotiations with management began in December last year, with the union bargaining for higher pay, improved family leave benefits, a greater commitment to diversifying staff and stronger union protection.

In response to Murray’s letter, UAW president Olga Brudastova said that HarperCollins has ‘once again attempted to third-party the union and pick and choose numbers and facts to serve their argument that the strike is unjustified’.

‘But we know this is not true, and our supporters, including authors and agents, know that as well,’ said Brudastova. ‘Our last exchange in negotiations was the company rejecting our comprehensive proposal that presented a clear pathway to a fair contract and addressed our core demands.’

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