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HarperCollins and striking union reach tentative agreement

Attendees at BookExpo America visit the HarperCollins Publishers booth in New York on May 28, 2015.
Mark Lennihan
Attendees at BookExpo America visit the HarperCollins Publishers booth in New York on May 28, 2015.

NEW YORK — HarperCollins Publishers and the union representing around 250 striking employees reached a tentative agreement providing increases to entry level salaries. If union members ratify the contract, it will run through the end of 2025 and end a walkout that began nearly three months ago.

HarperCollins and Local 2110 of the United Auto Workers released separate, identical statements Thursday night, announcing "increases to minimum salaries across levels throughout the term of the agreement, as well as a one time $1,500 lump sum bonus to be paid to bargaining unit employees following ratification."

No other details were immediately available.

Mid- and entry-level staffers in departments ranging from marketing to book design asked for a starting salary boost from $45,000 to $50,000, along with greater union protection and increased efforts to enhance diversity. Employees have worked without a contract since last spring and went on strike Nov. 10.

The industry and others closely followed the walkout, which drew attention to growing unhappiness over wages that have traditionally been low in book publishing and have made it hard for younger staffers without outside help to afford living in New York City, the nation's publishing hub.

Earlier this week, Macmillan announced it was raising starting salaries from $42,000 to $47,000. The other three major New York publishing houses — Penguin Random House, Hachette Book Group USA and Simon & Schuster — offer starting salaries between $45,000 and $50,000.

A months-long impasse without negotiations led to criticism of HarperCollins by agents, authors and others in the book community who alleged the publisher was not trying reach a deal.

HarperCollins, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, agreed on Jan. 26 to talks with a federal mediator. Soon after, HarperCollins announced plans to lay off 5% of North American employees, citing declining revenues and growing costs.

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