Could a United Condé Nast Rain on the Met Gala’s Parade?

"There comes a time where action has to be taken," Alma Avalle, a writer and web producer for Bon Appetit and a representative for Condé Nast Union, told Jezebel.

Could a United Condé Nast Rain on the Met Gala’s Parade?

On Monday, May 6, captains of industry and the famous capitalists they call friends will arrive at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for an evening of dresses, dancing, and not a single scruple about celebrating their influence and immense wealth amid an ongoing genocide. For years, all the exhaustive details of The Met Gala (which is sponsored by Condé Nast and chaired by Anna Wintour), also known as the most grueling, unglamorous evening of the year for Condé Nast workers, have permeated social media platforms. But this time, the underpaid employees who make “Fashion’s Biggest Night” possible, might be missing in action.

It’s been two years since hundreds of employees at Condé Nast—which includes Vogue, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Teen Vogue, and GQ, among others—announced they were forming a union, collectively noting that “prestige doesn’t pay the bills.” It wasn’t until September 2022 (nearly six months after the union made headlines) that the mass media company finally formally acknowledged the Condé Nast Union. It’d take another five months for management to join them at the table. Currently, the union counts 36 Vogue employees among its ranks with around 550 members in total—many of whom play a role in the Met Gala, whether its production or creating the social media blitz of gowns and bathroom selfies.

Now, after more months of negotiations over the union’s contract and proposed layoffs, the Condé Nast Union announced on Monday that a majority of members have pledged to strike at the start of next week if contract negotiations continue to move “at a glacial pace,” according to a statement from the NewsGuild of New York, the union’s organizing body.

“We’ve realized in the process of contract bargaining that you can only get so much by coming up with the perfect arguments or laying out your case in the most logical way,” Alma Avalle, a Bon Appetit writer and web producer and representative for the union told Jezebel. “There comes a time where action has to be taken.”

Condé Nast Union delivered the announcement to management via a video at Monday’s bargaining session.


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A post shared by Condé Nast Union (@condeunited)

“On Monday while we were in bargaining, I told management that we had a majority of our union members signed on to do whatever it takes to finish this contract and then presented a video in which a number of members of the union–including myself–announced they were ready to strike for a variety of issues,” Avalle recalled. “We said that we’d be available and ready to meet every day and Sunday to close contracts ahead of Monday, the day of the Met Gala, to avoid a strike.”

According to Avalle, the union is railing against any more layoffs until their first contract is established. In November 2023, executives at the company announced plans to lay off 5% of the workforce, a move that would—realistically—impact far more. “We have been countering with a reduced total number of layoffs, additional severance, and a layoff moratorium,” an Instagram post from the union reads. “Management’s latest response cut their previously offered severance by more than half.” By January, the union walked off the job in a 24-hour protest. Management’s plans for layoffs, however, continued, per the union.

Other issues of contention include the long hours and low wages—especially for employees covering the Met Gala—and more comprehensive and accessible healthcare for trans employees.

“I would say that it was frustratingly difficult to push through some of the general inclusivity parts of the contract, particularly for a company that owns and, ostensibly, has a positive track record with queer issues and representation,” Avalle said. “I feel like you get to the bargaining table and you find out where their priorities really lie.”


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A post shared by Condé Nast Union (@condeunited)

Meanwhile, Anna Wintour has yet to meet the union at the bargaining table. Her absence has prompted many members to demonstrate outside her West Village home and flyer the neighborhood. If management doesn’t cooperate with the union, “a week of union actions” will continue and the strike will proceed.

“We’re still waiting on management to confirm that they’ll be working with us every day this week, so if I were them, I would get us that notice as soon as possible,” Avalle told Jezebel. “If they were serious about averting the strike and resolving this in a timely manner then they would commit to giving us the time that it’s going to take to do that.”

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