John Oliver, David Simon Sign WGA East Petition Backing Vice Employee Contract Talks

Courtesy of Taji Ameen/VICE

WGA East represents around 400 Vice production and editorial employees or freelancers.

As the Writers Guild of America East prepares to return to the negotiating table with Vice over editorial employee contracts, several dozen HBO writers also represented by the union have sent a petition to Vice in support of their fellow members. 

The petition, signed by 78 HBO writers — including Last Week Tonight host John Oliver, The Deuce creator David Simon and Succession creator Jesse Armstrong — states, "Vice Media's commitment to innovation has made it a major industry player. There is no better way to cultivate that innovation than to sign a strong union contract. We, therefore, call upon Vice Media to settle a fair contract with the Writers Guild and Vice Union Bargaining Teams." 

Vice has had a multiyear relationship with HBO via the weekly newsmagazine Vice and nightly show Vice News Tonight. The premium cable network has also aired a number of Vice specials over the years.

WGAE represents around 100 Vice journalists and around 300 staffers or freelancers who work on video programming for its website, Viceland cable channel and HBO shows. The production employees unionized — and Vice voluntarily recognized the union — in September 2017, and the current talks represent a continuation of their first contract negotiations, which began in March. Editorial began renegotiating its contract with Vice in September. 

"We have been supportive of VICE union efforts from the very beginning, and have continued to negotiate in good faith," a Vice spokesman said in a statement. "We are confident that we will reach an agreement in the near future."

The union is looking for provisions around diversity and workplace culture following a string of sexual harassment allegations in late 2017 that resulted in the firing of several executives. It is also seeking portable health benefits for freelance employees and fair, equitable and transparent pay provisions. 

"This petition shows what WGAE solidarity looks like," a guild spokesman said in a statement. "Just as our members who craft shows for HBO are expressing support for their brothers and sisters at Vice, the WGAE-represented employees in all parts of Vice (Viceland, HBO news and documentaries, the verticals) are supporting each other in the quest for a good contract. That solidarity has already brought real gains in a number of areas such as strong provisions on diversity and workplace culture, and we continue to move forward to win portable health benefits for freelance employees, fair, equitable and transparent pay provisions, and ways for members to remain engaged in workplace decision-making once the collective bargaining agreement has been negotiated."

Vice Media in March appointed Nancy Dubuc as its new CEO as co-founder Shane Smith transitioned to the role of executive chairman. She officially started in the role at the end of May. 

The petition was signed by the following writers: 

Megan Abbott, The Deuce
Jesse Armstrong, Veep; Succession
Kevin Avery, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Katja Blichfield, High Maintenance
Molly Boylan, Sesame Street
Mitchell Burgess, The Sopranos
Jess Carlton, Sesame Street
Emma Carmichael, Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas
Tim Carvell, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Cristine Chambers, Boardwalk Empire
Geri Cole, Sesame Street
Eliza Cossio, Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas
Raquel D’Apice, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Stephani DeLuca, The Deuce
Mariama Diallo, Random Acts of Flyness
Riccardo DiLorento, Boardwalk Empire, Vinyl
Bathsheba Doran, Boardwalk Empire, Demimonde
Chris Duffy, Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas
Anya Epstein, In Treatment; The Deuce
Joe Fallon, Sesame Street
Chrissy Ferraro, Sesame Street
Tom Fontana, Oz
Marina Franklin, Divorce
Gina Gionfriddo, Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Goluboff, In Treatment
Josh Gondelman, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Dan Gurewitch, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Geoff Haggerty, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Hallie Haglund, Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas
Amy Harris, Sex and the City, The Comeback
Wes Jones, Demimonde
Mitra Jouhari, High Maintenance
Shaka King, Random Acts of Flyness
Lawrence Konner, The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire
Howard Korder, Boardwalk Empire
Raye Lankford, Sesame Street
Warren Leight, In Treatment
Brett C. Leonard, Hung
Sam Levinson, Wizard of Lies, Euphoria
Sean M. Love, Veep
Lisa Lutz, The Deuce
Eduardo Machado, Hung
Jim Manos, The Sopranos
Jeffrey Mauer, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Darius Clark Monroe, Random Acts of Flyness
Itamar Moses, Boardwalk Empire
Terence Nance, Random Acts of Flyness
Dan O’Brien, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Isaac Oliver, High Maintenance
John Oliver, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Eric Overmyer, The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, Treme
Ann Packer, Demimonde
Brian Parise, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
George Pelecanos, The Wire, Treme, The Deuce
Naima Ramos-Chapman, Random Acts of Flyness
Adam Resnick, The Larry Sanders Show, Divorce
Amy Rice, The News Room
Julie Rottenberg, Sex and the City, Divorce
Ken Scarborough, Sesame Street
Zack Schamberg, High Maintenance
Johnny Scott III, Demimonde
Chrissy Shackelford, Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas
Scott Sherman, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Ben Silva, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
David Simon, The Wire, Treme, The Deuce
Ben Sinclair, High Maintenance
Dillon Stevenson, Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas
Gary Sunshine, Hung
Will Tracy, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Jill Twiss, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Seena Vali, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Belinda Ward, Sesame Street
Jamund Washington, Random Acts of Flyness
Bradford Winters, Oz
Christopher Yakaitis, The Deuce
Rafael Yglesias, Demimonde
Stu Zicherman, Divorce
Elisa Zuritsky, Sex and the City, Divorce