Last week, the NewsGuild of New York media union and The Nation magazine announced a six-year contract that will provide four months paid parental leave to The Nation’s employees, regardless of their gender, and will also give employees a 25 percent pay increase over the life of the contract.
While The Nation has been unionized for decades—and other news organizations such as In These Times and The Guardian followed its lead this year—agreements of this kind are unique in the media world. In a press release, Emily Douglas, a senior editor at The Nation, commented on the contract:
The negotiating committee is very proud to have achieved a contract that not only protects our wages and healthcare, but also takes a major step forward in providing fully paid parental leave. Parental leave is a critical benefit for both women and men at our growing company, and will be offered on a gender-neutral basis. Even better, the leave can be taken all at once, or in stages, throughout the first year after birth or adoption of a child.
Parental leave made headlines many times this year when top tech companies, including Facebook, Netflix, Adobe and Microsoft, announced that they would begin providing employees with months of paid leave, and even childcare in some cases. Most U.S. newsrooms are not unionized, but collective bargaining has begun at many outlets, including Vice and Gawker.
Although the debate about whether or not this is a private- or public-sector issue remains heated, the importance of parental leave cannot be understated. A 2011 report found that taking time off after having a child results in a lowered risk of postpartum depression, higher rates of breastfeeding success and better skills development for children. Plus, family leave is cost-effective for employers: Researchers have consistently found that expansive family-leave policies either do not cost employers anything or result in actual savings, and employees are more likely to be loyal to companies that treat them well.
President Obama nailed this sentiment in a CNN interview last year. “Michelle and I have talked about this,” he said. “When we knew that employers had our backs and were willing to give us flexibility to look after our family, that made us want to work harder for that employer.”
Correction: A previous version of this article suggested that The Nation had just unionized this year. The error has been corrected.