Vice Video Employees Unionize With Writers Guild East and Editors Guild
The move adds 300 employees to the ranks of union-represented media workers in New York.
Vice Media employees creating video content have unionized with the Writers Guild of America East and the Motion Picture Editors Guild, the unions announced Thursday. Vice voluntarily recognized the unions after a majority of the company’s content creators signed union recognition cards with the WGAE and a majority of the company’s postproduction employees signed cards with MPEG.
The move results in union representation for approximately 300 staff and freelance employees working on video content for Vice.com, the Viceland cable channel and Vice programming on HBO. In addition to these newly organized employees, WGAE — which has been actively organizing new media news operations in New York — already represents approximately 100 journalists working on written content for Vice.com.
“It is essential for people who create content in this dynamic environment to have a seat at the table as the way the work is done — the way the content is made and distributed — continue to change,” said WGAE executive director Lowell Peterson. “We have built a constructive relationship with Vice management and applaud the company for continuing to respect the right of its employees to engage in collective bargaining.”
Said MPEG president Alan Heim: “We’re proud to welcome aboard the postproduction professionals whose talents and hard work helped build Vice into the news and entertainment juggernaut it has become. We salute Vice for offering a model of how responsible employers respect their employees’ desire for a voice on the job, instead of trying to squash workers’ organizing efforts.”
Both unions noted their partnership and the participation of SAG-AFTRA, whose role was not otherwise elaborated on, but presumably involves attempting to unionize on-air talent (who are not covered by Thursday's announcement). The Editors Guild is Local 700 of IATSE, the union that represents most unionized crewmembers in motion picture, television and new media.
“Vice is made up of thousands of the finest storytellers, filmmakers, producers, writers and creatives,” said a company spokesperson. “Working with employees who voted to join WGA East and Local 700 and those who opted not to, we'll continue to advance a shared mission to make Vice home to the most innovative, entrepreneurial and progressive minds in media. We hope these efforts will include collectively joining forces to ensure New York State is doing everything in its power to support our content creators and our Brooklyn headquarters.”
Said the Vice Union Organizing Committee: “Today's victory is a huge step for current and future employees at Vice who want to build power and influence at our place of work and throughout the industry. We join our previously organized colleagues at Vice.com and our counterparts at Vice Canada, as well as news, digital media and nonfiction TV creators who have been empowered by the labor movement and successfully negotiated strong union contracts.”
Vice’s recognition of the unions marks the culmination of talks initiated in May after the Vice Union Organizing Committee, on behalf of Vice employees organizing with WGAE, MPEG and SAG-AFTRA, delivered a letter to management requesting the company honor their decision to unionize.