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Hundreds of authors give support to striking workers at HarperCollins

More than 250 workers at HarperCollins, one of the biggest publishers in the country, have been on strike since November.
Spencer Platt
Getty Images
More than 250 workers at HarperCollins, one of the biggest publishers in the country, have been on strike since November.

More than 500 authors have signed a letter supporting members of the HarperCollins Union, who are currently on strike. The signees include HarperCollins' own authors and those associated with other publishers, including names such as Barbara Kingsolver, Jacqueline Woodson, Kwame Alexander, and more.

The letter was sent to HarperCollins Publishing CEO Brian Collins and HarperCollins Children's Books President Suzanne Murphy on Thursday morning.

"We stand with the people who mold and champion our work and ask that they be compensated justly and fairly for their labor," the letter reads. "Our hope is that HarperCollins will not be satisfied with meeting an industry standard that is far too low to retain top talent."

Union members at HarperCollins, one of the biggest publishers in the country, have been on strike since November 10, and have been working without a contract since April. The workers are demanding stronger union protections, better family leave policies, and better pay. According to a recent report done by the New York City Mayor's office looking at the economic impact of the publishing industry, the median annual salary for an editor is $85,000.

NPR has reached out to HarperCollins for a comment.

The approximately 250 workers striking come from different departments at HarperCollins – editorial, design, marketing, and more. In the letter, authors acknowledge that the strike has negatively impacted their book releases and has led to decreased sales. "We express deep concern about the long-term impact on our books and careers if the strike continues," the letter states. " Your refusal to reach an agreement with the union hurts us, your creators."

The signed authors have also committed to omit HarperCollins editors from submission lists until an agreement is reached.

The striking workers at HarperCollins are part of a broader wave of white-collar workers taking action in their workplace. Adjunct professors at the New School have been on a weeks-long strike. And on Thursday, workers at The New York Times staged a one-day strike.

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Andrew Limbong is a reporter for NPR's Arts Desk, where he does pieces on anything remotely related to arts or culture, from streamers looking for mental health on Twitch to Britney Spears' fight over her conservatorship. He's also covered the near collapse of the live music industry during the coronavirus pandemic. He's the host of NPR's Book of the Day podcast and a frequent host on Life Kit.
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