Vice Media's union is officially in business. The Writers Guild of America, East, on Friday announced that after months of collective bargaining, the digital news and culture company's editorial workers had reached a tentative contract with management.
The contract will increase raises and bonuses by 29 percent over three years and provide a special pay schedule for weekend work. It also lays out monthly meetings to discuss workplace issues, and allow employees to do freelance work.
All that's left to do now is vote on the pact. Vice's bargaining unit, made up of 70 employees, will cast the votes early next week.
One detail conspicuously absent from the contract is a "just cause" provision — language designed to protect employees from wrongful termination or disciplinary action. After Gawker ratified its contract in March, Vice is the second WGAE shop to leave just cause language out of its agreement with management.
Critics have expressed concerns over whether digital media unions, tapping into a new sector for organized labor, are being too flexible by leaving out that kind of language. But Vice's workers put out a more optimistic message.
“Through hard work and solidarity, we reached a deal that includes unprecedented economic changes, as well as provisions that are specific to today’s creative workplaces in the digital space," said Matt Taylor, Vice crime editor and bargaining committee member.
"This agreement acknowledges the vital role that editorial plays in Vice's success and growth, and we look forward to working together to make sure Vice remains the international media powerhouse it's become," he said, adding that it was also a victory for organized labor.
Management was equally cheery. “This is great news: Both sides have come together and struck a deal that continues to propel Vice forward as media's most innovative and entrepreneurial workplace,” said Alyssa Mastromonaco, chief operating officer.
"We are very pleased that Vice management listened closely to employees' concerns and addressed those concerns in a meaningful way," said Lowell Peterson, executive director of the Writers Guild of America, East.