Since employees of Hearst Magazines announced their intention to unionize last Monday, Hearst executives have waged an internal battle to get them to change their minds. In meetings with staff, Hearst’s chief content officer, Kate Lewis, and the president of Hearst Magazines, Troy Young, have urged them to withdraw union cards and have repeatedly insisted that a union is wrong for Hearst. That reaction sets Hearst apart from many other news organizations; most have voluntarily recognized new unions, though usually not without some reluctance or prevarication. Now there’s new evidence that Hearst doesn’t intend to back down from its anti-union stance.
In an email to staff sent on Thursday afternoon, Young reiterated his opposition to a union. Although “some other media outlets have chosen the union path, Kate Lewis, myself and Hearst leadership do not believe it is the right direction for us,” he wrote.
“We deeply believe that a union will divide our company and culture, as it has in the last week, and will surely slow us down at a critical time in our evolution without guaranteeing any tangible benefits,” he added. “We simply do not need an outside third party involved to do our best work. There will be much conversation about this in the coming weeks — and I think that’s a good thing to help ensure that everyone has access to the full range of facts and perspectives.” Young goes on to highlight several workplace improvements recently implemented by the company, including “a robust and flexible parental leave program,” salary planning, “more training and career development initiatives,” and “refocused diversity efforts.”
“As I look ahead to 2020 and beyond, here’s what I know about Hearst Magazines: The connections we share are a key part of what sets us apart. We are strong and nimble because we work together,” he continued. “We are not every other media company — we are Hearst. I am grateful to come to work here every day and to have the opportunity to build the future of our business with all of you.” Hearst employees previously told New York that they have felt patronized and belittled by Young’s anti-union comments. One meeting between Young, Kate Lewis, and the staff of Cosmopolitan reportedly left several women in tears.