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Oxford University Press’ American workers prepare to strike

The US National Labor Relations Board, an American government agency, has filed a complaint against Oxford University Press (OUP) on charges that OUP has refused to bargain and moved work overseas. News Media Guild, the union that represents the OUP USA, said that workers may organise a strike. 

OUP, the largest university press in the world, employs over 6,000 people with offices in multiple countries. OUP USA, based in New York City, employs around 150 of them.

An OUP USA Guild spokesperson told Cherwell that the last starting salary counter-offer from OUP was $46,826 in November of last year, an amount “far below” the New York City living wage estimated at roughly $70,000. The current starting salary is $40,000. Since OUP’s proposed salary was “overwhelmingly rejected,” the Guild has responded with three counter-offers, the latest of which was $50,000.

The spokesperson told Cherwell: “We are willing to work with the Employer to attain a contract that is fair for both sides, but the Employer has been unwilling to be reasonable in the last several months by refusing to budge.”

OUP USA workers belong to a bargaining unit which is acting to bar OUP USA from relocating these workers’ roles to outside of the United States without first negotiating with the union. Despite this, in 2023 the Guild learnt that OUP was hiring roles in the UK and India to perform OUP USA’s work. OUP stated that “they were a ‘global company’ that would move work around in whatever manner they deemed necessary.” 

The Guild then filed an Unfair Labor Practice Charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which investigated and found merit in six of the seven charges.

The spokesperson said: “The case will now move forward as the NLRB will now charge OUP with violating the law. The OUP USA Guild remains resolute in maintaining the sovereignty of our unit: Bargaining unit work must stay within the bargaining unit, lest our unit get slowly eroded until we have few members and little power.”

Cherwell has contacted the OUP for a reply.

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