Commentary

Picketing Anna Wintour's House Feels Like An Empty Gesture

Members of The New Yorker's employee union on Tuesday picketed the home of Anna Wintour, creative director of parent company Condé Nast, as part of their ongoing demands for better pay and job security.

If their goal was to gain a mention in New York media, then mission accomplished. Otherwise, it feels like an empty and misdirected gesture that won't force management back to the bargaining table.

Shouting chants like “bosses wear Prada, workers get nada,” about 100 protesters from The New Yorker union marched from the New York University campus to Wintour's home in Greenwich Village, The New York Times reported.

The workers included fact checkers and editorial workers from The New Yorker, and employees from the digital publications Ars Technica and Pitchfork, which also are published by Condé Nast. The New Yorker union was started three years ago as an affiliate of the NewsGuild of New York, which also represents workers at The New York Times, Reuters, Time and the Daily Beast.
The union has been negotiating a contract with Condé Nast since 2018, claiming some New Yorker workers have a yearly salary of $42,000 a year. Among other demands, the union is seeking limits on rising health insurance premiums. 
Targeting Wintour for protest is misguided, considering she's not directly involved in negotiations with workers. At the sight of protestors at her building, is she really going to call New Yorker editor David Remnick and plead with him to get his employees off her doorstep?
In announcing the picket on Twitter, the unions identified the block where Wintour lives. That's a dangerous invasion of her privacy. Even if her status as editor of Vogue has brought her worldwide fame, that doesn't merit sharing information about where she lives.
Condé Nast management objected to publicizing the location of her home, saying in an email to employees: "While we respect and support our employees' rights to organize, doing so while targeting an individual's private home and publicly sharing its location is not acceptable."
The union responded with a tweet noting it's "illegal to threaten employees with adverse consequences for taking part in protected concerted activity."
That may be the case, but publicizing Wintour's building location is reckless. If the union is serious about pressing its demands, it should follow through on its threat to strike rather than staging a publicity stunt.

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