Elizabeth Warren & Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez drop off New Yorker Fest over digital picket
The virtual New Yorker Festival, which runs from October 5 through 11, has lost two of its guests. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Elizabeth Warren, who were scheduled to talk with Andrew Marantz on 10/5, have agreed to decline their invitations to the fest, in solidarity with the New Yorker Union. The Union is organizing a digital picket on that night, which they say is in protest of management's refusal to include Just Cause provision in their contract. The provision would establish a standard that would need to be met before employees could be terminated. Here's their letter in full:
Today The New Yorker Union announced a digital picket on the evening Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Elizabeth Warren were set to speak at The New Yorker Festival. Both congresswomen have agreed to decline their invitations to the festival in support of the union's fight for crucial Just Cause protections. The members of the editorial unions from Ars Technica, BuzzFeed News, New York Magazine, Pitchfork, Quartz, Wirecutter, and Ziff Davis stand in solidarity with the congresswomen and with the New Yorker Union.
Management at The New Yorker is refusing to agree to a Just Cause proposal in the union's first collective bargaining agreement. Just Cause is a crucial element of any union contract, ensuring that journalists can do their jobs without fear of undue discipline or dismissal. As the New Yorker's editorial staff has put it, "Inequality has long plagued our industry, and it won't be solved by abstract commitments to fairness. At this moment of reckoning, we can rise to the occasion or relegate ourselves to the wrong side of history."
Instead of agreeing to this fundamental labor protection, The New Yorker's management team is arguing for an undefinable "editorial exception" that nullifies the security Just Cause provides. Any sort of exception to Just Cause gives management unilateral control to fire at-will. The same coordinated effort to deny Just Cause, pushed by the same team of corporate lawyers working for each company, is also happening at each of our bargaining tables.
We stand together, as members of the NewGuild of New York, in demanding true Just Cause, without exceptions, for all of our coworkers, and to ensure that it remains enshrined as a standard in collective bargaining agreements as it has been for decades.
"The NewsGuild and The New Yorker Union are fighting for basic dignity on the job, and we stand with them,” Warren and Ocasio-Cortez said in a joint statement to The New York Times. "We will not cross the picket line and attend the festival unless the New Yorker leadership agrees to the union’s demands — they should do so immediately."
A spokesperson for The New Yorker also made a statement to the Times, writing, "Like many other media outlets, The New Yorker strongly believes that its editorial standards should not be determined by arbitrators outside of The New Yorker, and we look forward to our continued discussions regarding just cause in the context of bargaining."
Other New Yorker Festival events have not been effected at this time.