Hearst Magazines accused of surveilling workers in editorial union fight

The fight pitting Hearst Magazines President Troy Young against the editorial union is getting nastier, with the Writers Guild of America, East now accusing the company of illegal surveillance and pressuring employees to withdraw their union authorization cards.

According to a complaint filed by the union in late December with the National Labor Relations Board, Hearst “unlawfully engaged in surveillance of employees’ union activities.” The union also claims the company “solicited, encouraged and/or provided assistance to employees to withdraw union authorization cards.”

In November, the Writers Guild said the “vast majority” of 500 editorial employees on magazines ranging from Esquire to Cosmopolitan had signed cards stating they wanted union representation.

Hearst has fought back, maintaining that up to 200 of the people who signed union authorization cards are supervisors who should be barred from joining a union.

“The surveillance claim is baseless — there is no surveillance,” said Young. The New York office of the NLRB said the vote to formally unionize can be held even while the supervisory issue is unresolved.

The company is appealing that ruling to the NLRB’s national board.

“A fair election process means determining who’s eligible to vote before an election, not after,” said Young, who also is pushing to have the union split into six different bargaining units. The union wants a single, unified bargaining unit for a stronger bargaining position.

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