Vox Union | Writers Guild of America East

FAQ

/FAQ
FAQ 2018-02-05T20:49:59+00:00

We are – Vox Media editorial and video employees across the Vox Media brands: Curbed, Eater, Polygon, Racked, Recode, SB Nation, The Verge, Vox.com, and Vox Studio/Entertainment.

The Vox Media union organizing committee wrote a letter about why we are unionizing. Leadership structures, ownership, and editorial direction of media and news companies change rapidly. Organizing is a way to ensure a seat at the table and guarantee terms of employment, including policies on severance, layoffs, discipline, and termination. Companies expand rapidly and, even if that doesn’t result in layoffs, workers deserve a seat at the table to participate in decisions made about the future of the companies they helped build.

As Vox Media continues to expand and put more resources into video, the people who write the scripts, produce the videos, and shoot and edit the content deserve the industry standards that their counterparts in traditional TV and film enjoy. Vox Media has the opportunity to set industry standards in digital media video, and the people creating that content deserve a say in those standards. Creative, quality content doesn’t need to come at the expense of stable and equitable working conditions. 

Through continued conversations and a bargaining survey, we will determine the bargaining priorities and what does or doesn’t work for us, then work with the WGAE staff to develop proposals that specifically address those issues. Those proposals are voted into place by us – the employees.

Gizmodo Media Group, HuffPost, VICE, and ThinkProgress are flexible, fast-paced, and innovative workplaces in the media industry that all have strong union contracts in place.

We’re currently assuming a bargaining unit (the employees who will be covered by a union contract) of just under 400 people encompassing a range of titles from copy editor and social media manager to video producer and junior shooter/editor.

Part-time employees are eligible as long as you filled out a W-4. People who are 1099 employees are not eligible to join the union due to labor laws.

Dues ensure that Guild members have the resources to negotiate and enforce strong contracts, seek legal support, and implement member-driven events and programs.

No one pays dues until a first contract is negotiated and voted upon. It’s up to us to work together with the WGAE staff to advocate for a strong contract and then decide, through voting, whether or not to ratify the contract.

WGAE dues are set by the Council (a governing body made up of elected members). Dues are 1.5% of earnings + $40/quarter membership fee. Upon leaving a union shop, individuals can decide to continue paying the $40/quarter fee to retain Guild membership. The $500 initiation fee is a one-time fee that is waived for anyone on staff before a union contract is in place; it can be paid in installments by anyone hired after contract ratification.

Gizmodo Media Group, HuffPost, VICE, and ThinkProgress all work under Writers Guild contracts. Thrillist, MTV News, Salon, and The Intercept are currently bargaining contracts. You can read more about the WGAE-unionized sites on the digital writers union website.

Yes, you have the same right as other Vox Media employees to form and join a union under federal law. Your employer cannot take action against you for doing so. This means you can:

  • Join with other workers to improve wages and working conditions
  • Attend meetings, rallies, and demonstrations
  • Join a union or other worker organizations

A union contract is negotiated between a group of employees, through their designated representatives, and their employer or employers. Contracts address all represented employees’ terms of employment: wages, benefits, and other working conditions. A union contract is a legal agreement between a group of employees and their employer. Without a contract any benefits you have are at your employer’s discretion and can be taken away at their whim. However, if you have a contract your employer is legally required to abide by it.

Vox Media employees will participate in setting the priorities for contract negotiations and will be on the union negotiating team that sits across the table from management. Once a tentative agreement with management, it goes to everyone in the bargaining unit for a ratification vote.

We can’t definitively say in advance just what will be in the contract, because the exact outcome of negotiations can’t be predicted. We do know, though, that we’ll have a democratic process for deciding what we as a group want to achieve and whether the agreement meets our needs. Without contract negotiations, we can only rely on Vox Media management to make all those decisions unilaterally on our behalf.

The organizing committee is a representative leadership group that unites employees to make improvements at work. As a rule of thumb, the committee should consist of about 10% of the workforce and include employees from various groups, job titles and departments. The more representative and inclusive the better. Responsibilities of a committee member include: communicating with colleagues, coordinating with other committee members, and staying in touch with organizers.

You can join the organizing committee! The bigger the better, anyone can join the organizing committee if they are willing to do the work of involving their colleagues in building the union. Email Writers Guild organizer Molly Katchpole for more information: mkatchpole@wgaeast.com.

Withholding your labor, or “striking”, is a tactic that can be very effective when done strategically and collectively. Many great gains have been won by workers throughout history by striking. That said, strikes are not that frequent these days. The decision about whether to strike or to take any action for that matter is one that we, as employees, decide on. The decision to strike is a very serious one and requires near unanimity for one to take place.

You might have heard that if, for instance, Writers Guild members who are TV writers vote to strike, then all Writers Guild members must strike, too. This is untrue. For example, if unionized employees at HuffPost vote to strike, this does not mean that unionized employees at VICE must strike. Those employees work under different contracts.

The Writers Guild represents many people in production. Just recently, around 250 production employees at Vice Media including producers, APs, researchers, coordinators, and archivist for the departments Viceland, Vice Digital Video and Vice on HBO unionized with the Writers Guild.

The Guild also represents sound, color, animation, and motion artists, PAs, producers, and directors at a number of other unionized digital media sites. The reason that video teams at HuffPost, Gizmodo Media Group, and Thrillist joined with writers to organize their union is because they share many issues with their colleagues: pay, benefits, intellectual property and licensing, job security, and so on.

In addition to the digital media industry, the Writers Guild organized production in the reality TV/nonfiction industry.

Ultimately, we, the employees, set the priorities for what gets bargained into a contract and the Writers Guild is well-equipped to represent us as digital media professionals.

Thrillist, The Intercept, MTV News, and VICE Production are all in various stages of negotiating their first union contract. Gizmodo Media Group, HuffPost, and VICE editorial all have union contracts in place. Remember that we will decide what goes into a Vox Media contract, but you can read their contracts as examples of how to address common issues in our industry.