Chalk up another win for the WGA East’s campaign to organize digital media. In its latest coup, the Guild has unionized the editorial staff of VICE Media’s digital operations. The move came after the staff sent a letter to VICE founder Shane Smith requesting that the company recognize their decision to unionize, and the company’s management immediately agreed to come to the bargaining table.
In a statement Saturday, Smith said, “I am proud to support all of you -and as an old gray-haired man all I want is for my beautiful VICE family to be happy – those writers who voted to unionize and those who did not. I love you all, and together we will conquer the world.”
The negotiations will cover some 75-80 writers and content creators employed in the company’s digital operations – but not the writers and producers of the VICE documentary series on HBO, who do not have a union contract. Asked if that show is next in the union’s sights, a guild spokesman said, “No comment.”
“We are proud of the work we do here at VICE,” the digital staffers said in their letter to management. “We love being part of a company that is changing media and having an impact on the world. We believe that a union is a logical step for the long-term legacy of the company.”
Contract negotiations are expected to begin shortly.
Alyssa Mastromonaco, VICE COO, said Saturday, “This company began as a free punk magazine funded by Canadian public assistance checks; today VICE employs hundreds of the best storytellers, journalists, writers, photographers, in more than 30 countries around the world,” continuing that “every step of that dizzying growth has been a reinvention of what VICE does and how it’s done.” She pointed out that VICE offers employees “100’s of millions of dollars in company equity, competitive salaries, paid leave and now tuition reimbursement,” and that “through these steps and others, VICE will continue doing whatever it takes to attract and retain the worlds best creative minds.”
“The men and women who write, edit, and create content for VICE craft some of the most compelling stories available in the digital realm,” said WGA East executive director Lowell Peterson. “They find innovative ways to reach people, to inform, to entertain and to engage. The WGAE is excited to work with these creative professionals, who want and deserve a seat at the table.”
The WGA recently organized the writers at Gawker Media, Salon and The Guardian US.