On June 8th, 2020, more than 1,300 workers across independent and corporate publishing, media, bookselling, and literary agencies stood together in protest of racist state violence and white supremacy. Together, we disinvested from the industry for a day and invested instead in our communities. In doing so, we demonstrated what is possible when publishing workers come together for the common good—when we take ownership of our labor, stop outsourcing justice to CEOs, and start erecting our own systems of support and accountability.
The mission of #PubWorkers4Justice is to build a community that will protect us from the inherent exploitation and racist practices of the publishing industry. While we are dedicated to bettering our working conditions, we fundamentally believe that we are more than just workers. We’re worth more than the labor extracted from us by the companies for which we work.
Book publishing, like all industries under capitalism, seeks to alienate us from one another. Therefore, we believe the path to our liberation begins with transforming how we approach professional relationships. We advocate for a shift away from individualism towards a culture of greater connection and care. We believe that resisting careerism in favor of service—to one another, and to our communities—is crucial to ending white supremacy and racial capitalism. #PubWorkers4Justice is a movement to build solidarity among people in our industry as fellow architects of a better world.
#PubWorkers4Justice is a BIPOC-centered community sustained by three pillars: Political Education, Collective Action, and Community Care. Together we study and cultivate the knowledge required to enact real change; we organize to put that education into practice; and we support one another in ways that our workplaces cannot. We believe that through the pursuit of initiatives that fulfill each of these pillars, we can achieve a more equitable publishing industry and society at large.
✿#PubWorkers4Justice is explicitly built on liberatory frameworks. We are students of abolition, Black radicalism, Black feminism, transformative justice, and labor movements. As such, we oppose sexism, racism, classism, ableism, ageism, homophobia, and transphobia.
✿Our community is necessarily not representative of the publishing industry, in that it centers Black, Indigenous, and POC workers.
✿We believe that the politics of representation only produce band-aids for a morally bankrupt system that must be dismantled. Justice will not be served by helping corporations publish more diverse authors or hiring more diverse staff. Representation achieves little if the people who represent us inevitably feed into and legitimize the very system that exploits us. Instead, our efforts call for an end to our exploitation.
✿We are building collective power, which means we refuse corporate co-optation. The more we build, the more control we have over the terms of our labor. We will not be distracted by reform or petty improvements to our working conditions. Our power is not contingent on the decisions of the CEOs for whom we work.
✿A broad coalition allows us to protect workers at small companies and agencies who are otherwise isolated and often the most vulnerable to abusive business practices. We will achieve better working conditions for all workers, but that can happen only by centering the most marginalized.
✿This is not a space for professional networking—this is a community in which people who work in the same industry support one another, provide holistic care for one another, and work together to build a better world.