By David Robb
January 7, 2019 6:00am
Writers and producers at four Vice Media news outlets have voted overwhelmingly to ratify contracts negotiated on their behalf by the WGA East.
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The new pacts, which cover some 200 staffers at Vice Editorial, Vice News, Viceland and Vice Digital, were approved by 98% of those who voted, the guild said. The new contracts are just the latest in the guild’s ongoing campaign to unionize digital news sites.
“Collective bargaining ensures that WGAE-represented employees have the opportunity to discuss what’s most important in their work lives, what needs to be changed and what needs to be strengthened,“ said Lowell Peterson, executive director of the WGA East. “We are very pleased by the concrete gains negotiated for people who craft content on the entire range of platforms, and we look forward to a productive relationship with Vice management for years to come.”
The Vice bargaining committee said in a statement: “As our efforts and those of our fellow workers across the labor movement have proven time and time again, organizing a union and building collective power works, We are stronger together, and that strength is more needed now than ever before. There is power in a union, and we urge everyone – everywhere – to organize. Now is the time.”
According to the guild: “The parties share a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in both staff and coverage. Further, the contracts establish new and expanded companywide policies and practices, including codifying anti-harassment and anti-bias policies and trainings, stipulating gender pronoun use in the workplace, providing gold standard benefits for transgender and people that identify as gender non-conforming, enacting explicit protections against online harassment and a commitment to interviewing diverse candidates for open positions. The contracts also include robust non-discrimination language pertaining to race, gender identify, socio-economic status, criminal convictions and more.”
The Vice Editorial agreement renews a contract first ratified in 2016, but the other three pacts are first-time agreements for content creators at the company’s other online and television platforms. Additional highlights of the agreement include:
• Guaranteed salary increases in each year of the contract;
• New minimums and grades making significant gains to raise up lower paid employees and raise standards at all levels;
• A committee to address and discuss engagement of freelance contributors;
• Editorial independence;
• Just cause and union security;
• Allowance for employees to bring a union representative to report potential harassment complaints.
In the past year alone, six other digital news sites have reached agreements with the guild, including Salon, ThinkProgress, The Dodo, Onion Inc., Thrillist and The Intercept. The guild also represents writers and producers at HuffPost, Slate, Vox Media, Fast Company, Talking Points Memo, MTV News and the Gizmodo Media Group.
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*Headline photo featured in Mister Robb’s article