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Workers at HarperCollins Publishers begin strike

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 20: Employees of HarperCollins Publisher participate in a one-day strike outside the publishing houses offices in Manhattan on July 20, 2022 in New York City. The strikers, who work in a variety of departments at the company, have been bargaining for a union contract since December 2021. Salary, a commitment to diversity and union security rights are some of the demands the workers have presented to the company. The union, Local 2110 of the UAW, represents more than 250 HarperCollins employees in the design, editorial legal, marketing, publicity, and sales departments. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 20: Employees of HarperCollins Publisher participate in a one-day strike outside the publishing houses offices in Manhattan on July 20, 2022 in New York City. The strikers, who work in a variety of departments at the company, have been bargaining for a union contract since December 2021. Salary, a commitment to diversity and union security rights are some of the demands the workers have presented to the company. The union, Local 2110 of the UAW, represents more than 250 HarperCollins employees in the design, editorial legal, marketing, publicity, and sales departments. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Updated November 10, 2022 at 3:47 PM ET

Union members at HarperCollins, one of the largest publishers in the country, started an indefinite strike today. Workers and supporters gathered outside the company's New York City offices this morning to make their demands.

The action comes after a drawn out negotiation process, with workers asking for higher wages, stronger commitments to diversifying staff and better family leave. The approximately 250 unionized workers are represented by UAW 2110, and include people in design, marketing, publicity and sales. These employees have been working without a contract since April.

"What we're asking for is a fair wage," said Stephanie Guerdan, associate editor at HarperCollins Children's Books and shop steward at the HarperCollins Union.

In the months leading up to the strike, the messaging from the workers has centered on meager pay while the company reported record profits in 2021. According to a recent statement, the average salary for HarperCollins employees is $55,000. The minimum salary is $45,000.

"None of that is an amount you can live on in New York City," said Guerdan who added that the company is insisting that employees should be able to commute into the Manhattan offices at least one day a week.

A spokesperson for HarperCollins, which is owned by News Corp, sent a statement that read "HarperCollins has agreed to a number of proposals that the United Auto Workers Union is seeking to include in a new contract. We are disappointed an agreement has not been reached and will continue to negotiate in good faith."

The striking workers are asking authors, agents and freelancers to withhold any new business with the company – but to continue to work on any existing agreements or contracts.

A number of authors and booksellershave pledged their support for the strike on Twitter, including Elise Bryant, who wrote "As a HarperCollins author (and former teacher union member), I stand in solidarity with the @hcpunion. There are so many brilliant people who work so hard to make our books happen, and they deserve a fair contract and living wage."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.