As book bloggers, we love talking about books and everything related to them, both the good and bad. We’re aware publishing has issues, and we try our best to support authors and publishers who attempt to close the gaps in various areas where publishing can do better. Which is why I’d like to bring your attention to others who are addressing problems in publishing, with some suggestions on how best to support them. So without beating around the bush anymore, let’s talk about the HarperCollins Union Strike.
First, let’s give a bit of context and background.
Who is HarperCollins? According to Wikipedia: “HarperCollins Publishers LLC is one of the Big Five English-language publishing companies, alongside Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and Macmillan.” Interestingly, HarperCollins is the only one of these publishers with a union.
Why the strike? Well, union workers are striking for 3 things to be in their contract.
1. Fair wages. 2. Diversity Initiatives 3. Union Security.
Why this post? It may seem that since the union is asking for such reasonable requests, there’s no need for me to even make this post! But, sadly, that’s not the case. Come Thursday, the strikers will have reached day 21 of their strike. Let me repeat that. It has been almost 3 WEEKS, and HarperCollins management can’t agree to these three items.
So now that we have our basic context, let me discuss in more detail. What exactly does it mean to request fair wages? Well, publishing is based in NYC, one of the most expensive places to live. And salaries in publishing are not doing much to help employees make ends meet there. Current starting salaries at HarperCollins are $45,000. Which is not enough to pay for rent, food, and other expenses given the location. So you may be thinking at this point, that the reason the strike has gone on so long is because the strikers are asking for a ridiculously large raise in starting salary. HAH. Nope. They’re asking for a $5,000 increase. That’s right. Just $5,000. And according to MIT’s Living Wage calculator, 1 person living in NYC alone requires a little over $52,000 pre-tax to make a living wage. So the raise wouldn’t even meet that threshold!
Graphic taken from PayScale
Now again, you might want to say that it will cost HarperCollins a lot of money to raise so many salaries. And that’s a fair concern. But keep in mind that HarperCollins made $39 million dollars in profit in 2022. Profit that was made through the hard work of these employees who can’t make a living wage. But there’s no real threat of burnout harming top dollar, because how many of us have dreamed of working in publishing? HarperCollins is exploiting the passion and love many of us have for books and publishing to keep a steady stream of employees who will work for years on pennies to do what they love. The union is there to prevent that exploitation. You can do what you love and get paid for it. Just because you’re passionate about your job, doesn’t mean you should have to scrounge to make end’s meet.
Okay. So we know it’s a problem. We know the union is asking for three more than reasonable items to be put in their contract. Now comes the important question.
How can you help?
1. SPREAD THE WORD
Follow HarperCollins Union on Twitter and Instagram. All of the ways to help that I’m sharing come from these social media platforms. On Instagram there are pinned posts about How to Help and the Do’s and Don’ts of supporting the union. I’ll summarize that all here. But if anything changes, that’s where you’ll see it!
2. Email HarperCollins!
The email you write should be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Find a template! Make a template! Share your support! Discuss your outrage that it has been 3 weeks! Let management know people care!
3. Donate to the Strike Fund
Now, not everyone will be able to do this one. But if you can, it’s worthwhile. Workers are forgoing pay to strike. Remember how expensive it is to live in NYC? Well, the strikers aren’t making any money right now. They need our monetary support. Receiving checks is preferred, but in case that is not possible for you here’s the link to make an electronic donation. But if you can, write out a check out.
Make out the check to Region 9A with “HarperCollins” in the memo to the address below!
ATTN Lynne Weir
Region 9A UAW
111 Founders Plaza, 17 Floor
East Hartford, CT 06108
4. For Bloggers/Bookstagrammers/Booktubers
HOLD YOUR REVIEWS! DON’T POST HARPERCOLLINS CONTENT!
Let’s be very clear about the parameters of this one. Read HarperCollins titles! Support HarperCollins authors! Buy HarperCollins Titles. You can even write reviews! Just don’t post them until the union gets their fair contract. Don’t post pictures of HarperCollins books on Instagram. Or write reviews on Goodreads or your blog. Use your voice!
Agents and authors and illustrators and freelancers are doing something similar. We’re all rescinding our services to put pressure on HarperCollins management. Our service as bloggers/bookstagrammers/booktubers just happens to be using our platform to recommend books.
And when you send that email to HarperCollins, let them know you’re doing this! Show them you mean it! Give them the number of titles you’ve read this year from them!
Here’s a list of all the HarperCollins imprints to use for reference!
And with that, I urge you to go forth! Share information about the strike! Hold your review! Donate! Do what you can to help make publishing do better for the people working so hard to make such great titles!
They have now also created a Bookshop.org storefront, from which the percentage of commission will be donated directly toward the strike fund when you purchase a book from these lists!
8 thoughts on “The HarperCollins Strike and What You Can Do”
Hm… I think they are more imprints like William Morrow.
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You are correct! When I was compiling the graphic, I by mistake covered a portion of the General HarperCollins imprints. I’ve fixed it now! Thank you for catching that!
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Thank you SO much for writing this, Malka! It is so wonderful to see other bloggers talking about this strike and your summation was SO helpful and succinct!
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Oh, I’m so glad you appreciated it! I was really hesitant about writing it because I wanted to be sure I was giving as much information as possible in as clear and precise a manner as I was able! I’m so glad you think I’ve achieved that!
And thank you so much for sharing my post! I was shocked to see I was getting views from Twitter, but when I followed the trail, I found you were the culprit!