Seven Seas Entertainment staffers have formed United Workers of Seven Seas (UW7S) with Communications Workers of America (CWA), and are seeking recognition, the group announced. If they are successful, Seven Seas would be the first manga publisher in the U.S. to unionize.

The UW7S website states,

The company has grown exponentially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. But with rapid growth comes growing pains, and we, the workers of Seven Seas, have been shouldering much of that pain. We find ourselves overworked, underpaid, and we do not currently receive the benefits otherwise typical of the publishing industry.

According to the organizers, the company has grown from about 10 employees in 2018 to over 40 at present. 30 signed the statement on the UW7S website.

The organizers are taking a lighthearted approach on social media, playing off the publisher’s name and nautical theme with two pirate cat mascots, Bartolomew and Nyancola, and the hashtags #makingwaves, #ourflagmeansunion, and #isekaiispossible.

They get serious on their website, however, with a list of goals that includes

  • Healthcare
  • Pension benefits
  • Paid time off, including sick time, vacation, and holidays
  • Higher pay, merit and cost-of-living increases, and a transparent wage structure
  • A more manageable schedule and overtime pay for “crunch” times
  • An end to at-will employment and unnecessary “permalancing”
  • Weingarten rights, which entitle an employee to union representation during investigatory interviews
  • Better rates for freelancers across the board
  • Clearly defined job titles and organizational chart
  • Better training materials and onboarding procedures
  • More administrators to track deadlines and maintain the company’s database
  • Management training for managers and supervisors
  • An end to prohibitions on staff doing freelance work on their own time
  • Anti-harassment and discrimination policies, as well as a procedure for submitting grievances
  • End of year bonuses
  • Reimbursement for costs of working remotely
  • Improved communication between departments, including quarterly updates
  • Increased staff in several departments

Seven Seas management can voluntarily recognize the union or require a vote, which would be overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. The company did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

Image Comics employees organized last year and voted in January to unionize, making Image the first unionized comics publisher in the U.S. (see “Image Comics Employees Vote to Unionize”). The RPG publisher Paizo voluntarily recognized its employees union, eliminating the need for a vote (see “Paizo Voluntarily Recognizes Union”). Both unions are affiliated with the CWA.