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Why 250 book industry workers are on strike at a publishing giant

Fast Company: “The HarperCollins Union, which represents more than 250 employees, has been on strike since November 10. HarperCollins is the only one of the Big Five publishers (which also include Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Hachette Book Group, and Macmillan) with a unionized workforce, which it’s had for more than 80 years. There are a number of university presses and smaller publishers who have unionized in recent years, and a small crop of unionized bookstores (including the Strand and McNally Jackson) in New York City. But the HarperCollins Union, with its decades of history and big-fish status, is the only one of its kind for now. The challenges its workers face are endemic throughout the publishing industry, which has long relied on workers’ passion for books to offset low pay and crushing schedules. While some are working to change the status quo, the industry also remains glaringly lacking in racial diversity. Workers of color who lack the financial support that their more privileged peers enjoy can’t sustain themselves with low-paying jobs and are therefore pushed out. These wider concerns are reflected in the union’s demands. The HarperCollins Union’s major ask is a raise in wages that would hike the company’s salary minimum to just $50,000…”

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