Staff protest | Employees turn up outside Vogue boss' home over pay dispute

Employees turn up outside Vogue boss' home over pay dispute

When issues arise in the workplace, staff are often encouraged to go to line managers or the people function with a view to resolving these problems.

However, some disgruntled Condé Nast staffers have taken a more unusual approach to raising HR-related issues at work and have reportedly turned up outside a boss’ house in protest over issues including fair pay.

How events unfolded

On Monday morning, union staff at The New Yorker, a title within Condé Nast’s portfolio, launched a new website, stating their demands for higher pay and better job security, on top of a statement that claimed they were “on the verge of a strike” – The New York Times reported.

And on Tuesday evening, employees marched from a university campus to the home of Anna Wintour – the famous magazine editor who has since become a symbol of Condé Nast.

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Circa 100 protesting staff attended, with reports saying they belonged to The New Yorker Union.

Staff from two other titles within union representation, Ars Technica and Pitchfork, were said to have also been among demonstrators.

‘Fair pay now’

Protesters were said to have carried signs that read: “You can’t eat prestige” and “Fair pay now”.

The protest was said to be an escalation to The New Yorker staff’s two-year battle with the firm regarding wages, healthcare benefits and work-life issues – all issues that HR might normally be involved with.

‘Not acceptable’

It was also reported that the organisation tried to prevent the protest earlier this week in an email to union staff that reportedly read: “Targeting an individual’s private home and publicly sharing its location is not acceptable.”

Talks between Condé Nast and The New Yorker Union started at the end of 2018 shortly after some staff organised with the NewsGuild.

The union is looking for a base salary of £42,488 ($60,00) for its members. According to Natalie Meade, a fact checker and Chair of NewGuild’s unit at the magazine, the company offered a floor of £38,463 ($54,500) in recent negotiation talks.

A Spokeswoman for Condé Nast explained that the firm had come some way in recent negations and said: “We hope to have a contract soon so that real wage increases find their way to our union employees.”

HR Grapevine has contacted Condé Nast for comment.

Fair pay

Ensuring that staff feel that they are fairly paid and valued for the work that they do is crucial in the workplace.

However, 2018 data from a Quantum Workplace survey found that 23% of employees said that they weren’t sure if they were paid fairly.

This data comes despite separate research pointing towards the benefits of offering staff competitive salaries.

For example, FairyGodBoss explained that offering competitive pay can help with talent attraction, staff retention and with boosting morale – all things that HR is tasked with looking after.

Raising issues in the workplace

While these events took place in the US, the topic of raising HR-related issues in the workplace is also under the spotlight.

If employees are having a problem at work, Acas’s website explained that it is usually better to informally raise it with your employer first – whether this is via a line manager or HR.

Informal chats could range from a quiet word to more of a structured meeting. The site also explained that if employees feel they required more support, they could perhaps speak to mental health first aiders or fair treatment ambassadors.

However, if the issue can’t be resolved informally, staff can raise a formal grievance. Acas explained that if this doesn’t resolve the issue then the staff member may be able to make a claim at an employment tribunal.

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