Unions & Advertising - a Q&A

A Q&A about unions and what role they can play in the advertising industry with journalist Hamilton Nolan.

Thanks to everyone who asked a question. Feel free to ask me more stuff in the future, my DMs are open on twitter. Happy to help anyone find a union organizer to talk to. There’s no reason the (cont)

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A fair number of my coworkers are international and already are held hostage by their visa status. In what ways might this complicate our organizing efforts?

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I’m all in. How do I start? Who do I talk to? Do I have to contact a professional organizer in my state?

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If i work at an agency with multiple offices in different states, will unionizing one office affect the others?

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Totally agree that once the first agency is unionized it gets easier for everyone else. But what’s to prevent agencies from firing the first person to try, or blackball them from the industry?

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I’ve been switching between freelance and staff for 10 years. During that time, salaries have gone down, but freelance has gone up. With NYC laws now requiring healthcare, prompt payment, and (cont)

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I’m at an agency that just went through several rounds of layoffs. It often seems like staff have no recourse when the layoffs hit. How could a staff union assist in that situation?

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If we finally get unionized, do you think we can get title seniority standardized? I’m seeing people go from Junior to Creative Director in less than five years, yet don’t have actual CD duties.

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Do you miss the PR beat and writing on Ronn (sic)?

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What can we do to help unionize this industry? I hear a lot of talk about it, but are there specific actionable steps we can take?

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Are you aware of any examples when a union has not benefited the workers in a company or industry?

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So much of our business is built on long-hours driven by urgent client needs and deadlines. Would a union squeeze this by negotiating certain working hours, etc?

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I don't see why the industry needs a union. I think more than anything there are just too many people working in the industry (between people who couldn't cut it in business school and lax hiring...

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So say Nike (or any brand the whole world bends backwards for) gives the opp to an agency to pitch for them next week with night and weekend work. If we’re unionized, we can’t work for Nike? (Cont)

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My biggest issue with freelancing is feeling like a constant outsider. Agency’s are notoriously cliquish among full timers, so imagine what it feels like for an outsider...I mean a freelancer.

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The ad industry is legendarily homogenous. Won’t unionizing simply close ranks & protect existing white professionals, who then protect other professionals just like them, resulting in LESS diversity?

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Will a unionized advertising industry discourage toxic cultures? I always thought unions made it harder for the “bad apples” to get fired due to union protection.

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My biggest question about unionizing in the agency world is they close to half of us are “management.” I’m not totally sure how draw the line between labor and management at an agency.

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Is there an argument that unions make better creative? I think creatives are afraid that unionized agencies would be one more reason to take creative in-house. Or, can in-house creatives unionize too?

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Would it be advantageous to create a larger guild like the NYC NewsGuild (who organized with CWA) so that multiple companies could unionize together through the same framework?

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