Conde Nast workers’ TikTok and Twitter campaign to unionise proves the power of digital activism

Posted by Dina Zubi in Comment

2 years ago

In March, workers at Condé Nast media brands like Vogue, Architectural Digest, Vanity Fair and GQ joined employees at The New Yorker, Pitchfork, Wired and Ars Technica in unionising with the NewsGuild of New York. The workers are using social media to further their cause, proving the unparalleled power of digital activism.

Twitter is a key battleground for the unionisers, and on March 29th, the Condé Union Twitter account shared a video titled “73 Answers with Condé Workers” – a play on Vogue’s popular video series “73 Questions” – in a move to use the publisher’s own content against them. The video, which has over 60,000 views on Twitter and over 200,000 on Instagram, included writers, editors, producers, analysts and social media managers who demanded fair pay, job security and more diverse representation.

Condé Nast employees, many of them writers with influence on Twitter, are also sharing memes, videos and messages urging the publisher to recognise the union. Vanity Fair’s Emily Kirkpatrick announced she is now “a full time #unionizeconde meme maker” and GQ employee Gabe shared a reimagined retro GQ cover, while Teen Vogue’s Lexi McMenamin posted a Devil Wears Prada meme in support of the union.

TikTok has a lot to say about the unionising as well. The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)’s TikTok account comments on worker’s rights, unions and companies’ mistreatment of employees, and has been encouraging its followers to sign Condé Union’s petition for the publisher to recognise the union. The TikTok comments are overwhelmingly supportive and several wrote they would start consuming Condé Nast content again if workers were allowed to unionise. TikToker Tati, who often gives career advice, also shared the union news in a video and urged her followers to support the movement.

Meanwhile, TikTokers are also posting their bad experiences from Condé Nast, like former Bon Appétit employee Hannah Neuman, who has a series dedicated to her experiences working at the company as a “non-white, non-wealthy person”. Here, she has called out people who mistreated staff and criticised practices at the company. Ann Marie Elaban has also slated Bon Appétit in several TikToks.

The unionsing of all the Condé Nast media brands is part of a movement that started in 2018, and which saw a protest outside Anna Wintour’s New York home in 2021. The new union’s mission statement says “our historic unionization will set a precedent: that being on the cutting edge in this business means valuing workers”. If the unionising is successful, its social media efforts can take much of the credit.

By Dina Zubi, staff writer for CORQ.