Image Comics’ Workers Unionize and form Comic Book Workers United

Comic Book Workers United

Comic Book Workers United is a new unionization effort by Image Comics‘ employees represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

In a series of Tweets the organization said:

For years, comics publishing workers have watched our professional efforts support creators and delight readers.

Sadly, we have also watched that same labor be taken for granted at best and exploited at worst. Keeping our heads above water was the new normal before the pandemic and since its onset we have been expected to take on even larger workloads with fewer resources.

Our workforce, and the comic book and publishing industry as a whole, is overtaxed and undervalued.

This is detrimental not only to general staff but also to the creators we are paid to serve and the audiences they in turn work to entertain.

Our labor is integral to the comic book industry. It requires specialized skills, dedication, and makes quality publishing possible.

We love what we do. But loving what you do doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t ask for improvements to your working conditions.

It is with this in mind and with great hope for the future of Image Comics and the comic book industry itself that we announce our intent to form a union and request voluntary recognition.

This should not be radical or revolutionary, and is, in fact, a natural development for a company that started the way Image Comics did.

In the early stages of organizing, we looked to Image’s founders for inspiration. Their dreams of self-determination and more equitable treatment in the industry they loved and helped make successful are also our dreams.

We are honored to grow their legacy by taking this step to give all comic book industry professionals, regardless of title, the same rights, guarantees, security, and protections which the founders sought when they broke away from the big two to start their own company.

In fact, several months into our organizing efforts, Jim Valentino made a comment on social media celebrating union accomplishments. That was the moment we knew this could work.

Despite years of union busting and anti-organization sentiments in the American workforce, we know that Image has, at its heart, a desire to be first when it comes to doing the right thing for comics workers.

That’s why we know we will win, because our success is the company’s success.

Our success is the creators’ success.

Our success is the readers’ success.

The goals of the organizing effort are:

  1. To improve salaries throughout the industry through salary and workload transparancy.
  2. Annual staff and management reviews
  3. Monthly all-hands meetings to understand company priorities, responsibilities, and workloads
  4. Detailed record keeping and documentation for all essential tasks to improve knowledge retention
  5. Improve career mobility
  6. Remote work for all employees who request it and accommodations and supplies for remote employees
  7. Hiring of more Production and Marketing to improve the overall product
  8. Increase diversity in staff and management
  9. A collective voting option to allow stay a say in canceling 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).”

Union organizing has picked up in the video game/tabletop game/comic space after years of discussion. Recently, employees of Paizo Publishing organized under United Paizo Workers and were recognized by the company’s leadership soon after. That union is also under the CWA banner. Discussion of unionization on the creator side of the comic industry goes back decades with numerous false starts, failed efforts, and union busting.

You can learn more about Comic Book Workers United at their website.