Condé Nast Plans More Layoffs, Files Charge Against Union as Staffers March to Executive Offices

The already tenuous relationship between Condé Nast and the union that represents around 550 of its staffers at Vanity Fair, Vogue and GQ, among other publications, appears to be hanging by a thread.

On Wednesday afternoon, around 35 Condé Union members marched to executives’ offices to protest additional layoffs that they say were threatened during labor negotiations on Tuesday. During Tuesday’s bargaining session over a first contract, the company said it intended to add five more staffers to its preexisting list of employees set to be cut and warned that the company could add more, according to the Condé Union, which also represents workers at Condé Nast Entertainment, Bon Appétit, Allure, Architectural Digest, Condé Nast Traveler, Epicurious, Teen Vogue, Glamour and Self. (Some New Yorker staffers bargain in a separate union.)

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The Condé Union further alleges that the company did not provide any counterproposals on union asks from the previous week — on remote work and paid time off, for instance — during Tuesday’s meeting on Zoom, which management apparently ended abruptly.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday Condé Nast filed an unfair labor practice charge against the Condé Union’s umbrella labor organization, the NewsGuild of New York, for “bad-faith, surface bargaining,” according to a company memo circulated to staffers who belong to the Condé Union. The company’s reasons include that in four months of bargaining “they [the union] have yet to address our workforce reduction proposal seriously,” making just one proposal related to layoffs in December that called for a minimum of seven months’ severance and COBRA for affected staffers and requesting just 28 cuts, instead of the originally proposed 94.

“We have also informed the union that we will start proposing cost saving measures to offset the cost of continued salary carrying costs that are not in our 2024 budget,” the memo stated. “Despite our best efforts to avoid this, the union’s delay is leaving us with no choice other than to find these cost savings. Today we told the union that we will be adding additional roles to the proposed reduction list.”

In a statement, NewsGuild of New York president Susan DeCarava called the charge “a blatant attempt to force us into accepting their [management’s] layoff plans.” She added, “As we have throughout negotiations, we are ready to bargain when management wants to stop the theatrics and bargain in good faith.”

The new layoffs were proposed nearly two weeks after Axios reported that Condé Nast CEO Roger Lynch said the company “doesn’t have plans for any further reductions,” which has irked the union and its members. Lynch first announced that the company was intending to lay off five percent of its workforce on Nov. 1, and the Condé Union has been bargaining those cuts ever since. Before Tuesday, the company told the union that it was eyeballing 94 union members, or around 17 percent of the Condé Union. “What happened Tuesday was a gross display of management playing games with people’s livelihoods,” Vanity Fair social media manager Mark Alan Burger said in a statement. “It’s simply unacceptable and we are showing that today.”

According to Vanity Fair staff writer and shop steward Erin Vanderhoof, who attended Wednesday’s protest, neither Lynch nor chief content officer and global editorial director Anna Wintour were present in the offices during the demonstration. Management gathered in a room as staffers demonstrated. “I can’t tell you where those five jobs are coming from or even if it’s just five because that was unclear, but I can tell you that some of the people already on the list are very fundamental to helping Condé Nast weather out the storm of the whole digital media decade,” she said.

Those staffers who are on the layoffs list have been told that they are getting reassigned to a group separate from their previous brands that is being called the “Central Content Unit,” according to a person familiar. While the exact work the CCU will be doing is as yet unknown — staffers are supposed to receive their assignments on Monday, March 25 — the group will be reporting to Chris DiPresso, vp of content finance and operations.

The Condé Union and management have bargaining a first union contract since September 2022. Those two parties’ relationship has been contentious ever since the Nov. 1 layoffs announcement, with the NewsGuild of New York (Condé Union’s parent union) filing an initial unfair labor practice charges against the company in January and staffers staging a walkout on Jan. 23, the day that nominations for the 96th Academy Awards were announced — a major news day for titles like Vanity Fair. The NLRB has not yet ruled on the NewsGuild’s unfair labor practice charge.

The parties are scheduled to return to negotiations on Thursday.

Additional reporting by Lachlan Cartwright.

5:45 p.m. Updated to change the number of bargaining unit members, which is around 550, not 400.

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