Comic Book Workers United Vote To Ratify Image Comics Contract

Comic Book Workers United has announced that members have voted overwhelmingly to ratify their first union contract with Image Comics.

In November 2021, Image Comics staffers stated that after voting in a supermajority, they were forming a union, Comic Book Workers United, to represent employees in the comic book industry, with a series of goals. This focussed on publisher staffers rather than comic book creators, who are traditionally freelance workers and this, under the current interpretation of US law, unable to form a union under anti-cartel legislation. In January last year, Comic Book Workers United announced they had won their union election, making Image Comics the first unionized comic book publisher in the United States, though opposed by the Image Comics board, who refused to voluntarily recognise the union before going through the full legal route. Then they had to launch a legal suit against Image Comics over claims of unfair labour practice.

Image Comics Staff Form A Union, Comic Book Workers United
Comic Book Workers United

They have now issued the following statement:

The CBWU is proud to announce that, on March 1st 2023, the workers of Image Comics voted overwhelmingly to ratify our first union contract!

We were hopeful for, but could never have imagined, the outpouring of support we received when we began our collective bargaining journey. A lot has happened since that first announcement and we cannot begin to adequately express our gratitude to the community of people within and without the industry who have stood with us during contract negotiations.

As we celebrate this victory, we also want to take the opportunity to reaffirm that this contract is just the first step among many and we hope you will stick with us as we continue the fight for union representation and more equitable working conditions for everyone in the comic book industry and beyond.

In closing, to those of you out there agitating, advocating, and organizing, we see you and we can't wait to see, "What's next?"

Signed, Comic Book Workers United

Ratification is usually the third stage of collective bargaining, but it is a considerable way down the road. These were the initial demands or goals of the union, as originally expressed.

  1. To foster a more competitive industry as a whole, through salary and workload transparency for all existing and proposed job titles. Employees industry-wide should know what they and their peers are working for and what they can expect from future employment.
  2. Improve staff morale through annual staff and management reviews to assess performance, workload, and whether there is a clear need to expand a department, craft a new role, or increase compensation for employees who have taken on a larger quantity or more complex suite of tasks.
  3. The creation of a more transparent company culture through monthly all-hands meetings, so all staff can better understand both the current and future priorities, responsibilities, and workloads of other departments.
  4. Increase knowledge retention through the implementation of detailed record keeping and procedure documentation for all tasks deemed essential to any given role. These documents are to include detailed and explicit descriptions and instructions for all expected job duties.
  5. Improve career mobility for all staff through stricter adherence to the company's stated intent to offer open positions up to qualified existing employees prior to opening them up to the public.
  6. The continuation of remote work for any employee who requests it and the creation of a detailed policy outlining how the company provides reasonable accommodations and supplies for remote employees. The pandemic has removed the necessity for the company to pay for a central office space, utilities, etc. With employees in some cases now shouldering one hundred percent of costs that should be shared by the employer, costs such as internet, power, furnishings and other office supplies, computer hardware and related maintenance costs to work from their own personal devices, the company must outline an equitable arrangement for sharing a reasonable percentage of those costs.
  7. Better overall product through the immediate addition of staff, particularly in Production and Marketing departments. Our creators, retailers, and readers can expect white glove attention for all the books we publish; books which will go to press with fewer errors, fewer delays, and a more robust marketing presence due to a more strategic approach to staffing, in reasonable proportion to the actual quantity of output we generate.
  8. A long term, actionable plan to address the overall lack of diversity in both general staff and management. The authors, artists, and readers who bring comics to life have never been homogenous and the stories we publish can only be improved by staffing our organization in a way that more accurately reflects the demographics of our creators, our readership, and the nation as a whole.
  9. Renewed commitment to company values through the addition of a collective voting option to immediately cancel publication of any title whose creator(s) have been found to have engaged in abuse, sexual assault, racism and xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, ableism, etc. until such time as said creators have engaged in meaningful reparations toward affected person(s).


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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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