From the Vice Union Organizing Committee

Since its inception, VICE has grown by leaps and bounds. When Shane Smith tells us that we are beating every other media company in terms of growth, charging through as the “Time Warner of the streets” in VICE’s words, we listen. This was a company built for young people and by young people. But youth is fleeting. As VICE continues to grow up and older, so will its employees. Likewise, we employees will continue to face challenges of today as we age: paying rent, staying healthy, providing for families, seeking advancement, saving for retirement. We find it necessary then to act on these issues now, and plan for our future.


When Shane recently wrote us his “we are the punks again” message, we couldn’t have agreed more when he said now is our time to service “our ever-growing millennial audience who are being left out of the political and socioeconomic status-quo, despite being the largest demographic on Earth.” We believe in addressing the needs of our time. That’s why we are currently building a union that embodies our beliefs and stands up for our interests. We want VICE management to fully respect the people who help make VICE the dynamic company that it is. What’s more, as many at VICE have learned the hard way – trying on your own to negotiate your position or compensation often does not get you very far. Working together, we can all have some leverage, and benefit in our negotiations.

We have outlined core areas at the heart of this effort, and they are described as follows. We hope our fellow VICE employees will join in the conversation and contribute what is important to them as well:


VICE is an industry leader in its product offering. It should also be an industry leader in the compensation and benefits packages it offers its freelance and staff employees. In too many respects, with regards to rewarding work, VICE now lags rather than leads. Under the new Trump administration, in which journalists have been branded as enemies and protections for employees are jeopardized, it is all the more imperative that VICE demonstrate robust support for its employees. Such support starts with appropriate compensation: regular raises to address increases in the cost of living, rates of pay that adequately reflect the responsibilities we are assigned, overtime and kill fee policies that compensate us accordingly for long hours and changes to project schedules. A progressive employer further supports its employees in ways that go beyond the paycheck: support such as strong healthcare benefits for both staff and freelance employees, retirement benefits, childcare, as well as maternity and family leave.


We are committed to making VICE an inclusive working environment where people of various races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities and physical ability can come together to make great content. We call upon management to create more opportunities for people of color and women in VICE’s day-to-day operations. In these times of international political turmoil, we also seek real financial and administrative assistance in supporting our international hires. Our union will help ensure that VICE’s commitment to diversity is realized through concrete policies and procedures.


In the absence of a collective bargaining agreement, too often we VICE employees lack a clear and consistent understanding of what is expected of us and what we can expect of the company. As a consequence, some of management’s decisions can seem arbitrary or capricious. For each of us to excel in our work, we need to know the standards according to which decisions are made about such critical concerns as promotions, pay raises, staff versus permalance status, assignment of responsibilities, disciplinary actions, and terminations. A union contract establishing agreed-upon, transparent standards for such decisions will help ensure that each of us performs to the best of her or his ability.


We believe in the mission of VICE, and we hope to build sustainable careers with the company. Patterns of unexplained firings and layoffs undermine our ability to commit ourselves to the company’s mission for the long term. Moreover, we need clear paths by which we can advance our employment at VICE. The current system of reviews and conflict resolution result in too much uncertainty about our future prospects with the company.


We require editorial freedom to inform and stimulate our audience without censoring our content based on VICE business relationships. When it comes to any content tied to branded projects, expectations for any work on the branded content should be a clearly delineated part of work agreements that VICE employees are a part of forming, not duties added to existing job responsibilities without consultation and negotiation.


Let’s build our union by getting involved to make improvements throughout Vice. Join the campaign. Sign a union card. If you want to get more involved or have questions, you can contact us at: ViceUnion@ViceUnion.org.


If you work as a producer, associate producer, coordinator, archivist or researcher at VICE Media, use the form below to sign an authorization card with the Writers Guild of America, East. If you do not, please visit VICEUNION.ORG to find out more about the union relevant to your title.


In 2015 editorial staff organized with the WGAE and by the spring of 2016 negotiated and ratified a great first contract.


Highlights of the editorial union contract with VICE Media include:

    • Significant pay increases. Guild-represented employees will get an increase of at least 14%, retroactive to January 1.  The minimum increase is $8,000 a year for full-time employees, which in some cases amounts to nearly 20% pay increase. Minimum pay will be set at $45,000/year.  There will be additional pay increases of 5% in the second year of the contract and 5% in the third year, and employees will remain eligible for additional individual increases.


    • Company contributions to the 401(k) plan. VICE will match employees’ contributions on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to 3% of pay.


    • There will be no reductions in health benefits at all this year, and a negotiation if the company contemplates any changes in the future.


    • Intellectual property. Language protecting employees’ right to do non-VICE work and governing reuse of employees’ work for the company.


    • Editorial independence. VICE has formalized a written commitment to editorial independence.


    • Comp time. The contract includes compensatory time off for work on weekends and other scheduled days off.


    • Severance pay. For the first time, unionized employees are guaranteed severance pay on termination (except for gross misconduct).


    • Monthly union-management meetings. VICE and the union will meet monthly to discuss diversity, workload, business/editorial issues, and more.


Organizing is the democratic process of joining with coworkers to secure a voice on the job and to negotiate better terms and conditions of employment. The principle behind union organizing is simple: we have more clout with our employer when we negotiate as a unified group than we do when each of us negotiates as an isolated individual.

We are building a union that embodies our beliefs and stands up for our interests. We want VICE management to fully respect the people who help make VICE the dynamic company that it is.

Members of the VICE Organizing Committee drafted a mission statement outlining our vision for what we can accomplish through unionization:

  • improved pay and benefits,
  • real commitments to diversity,
  • transparent management standards,
  • clear and sustainable career paths, and editorial freedom and independence.

You can read the Organizing Committee’s “Why We Are Organizing” statement for more detail.

Currently, VICE management makes all the decisions about our jobs and the policies that affect us as employees. Management can make all these decisions unilaterally, without our approval. Each of us may have some latitude to negotiate the terms of our employment individually — we can, for instance, ask our supervisors for raises — but none of us on our own are able to have much impact upon the standards the company applies to its hundreds of employees.

With a recognized union, VICE management will have a responsibility to negotiate with us, as a group, over all the terms of our employment. The company won’t be able to make changes that affect our jobs without including us in the decision-making process. And speaking together, with one voice, we’ll have more influence than any one of us might, speaking alone.

That’s how collective bargaining works. Having a union won’t mean we’ll have absolute power to set the terms of our employment, but it will mean we’ll have a voice and a vote in what it means to work for VICE.

The Writer Guild of America, East is a labor union of thousands of creative professionals in motion pictures, television, cable, digital media, and broadcast news. For decades members of the Writers Guild have been fighting for better standards in compensation, benefits, working conditions, and the respect and dignity we deserve. Our mission is to build a community of creative professionals with the willingness to have each other’s backs and the power to secure a fair industry for those that make it work.

Union dues are the regular payments members make to support the organization’s administrative costs. The 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. No one pays dues until a contract is negotiated and voted on by VICE employees. Initiation fees are waived for anyone already employed in newly organized bargaining units. Employees that start at VICE after the date of contract ratification pay an initiation fee of $500.00.

Unlike other forms of representation that you can purchase — by hiring an agent or hiring a lawyer to represent you, for example — union representation does not operate on a fee-for-service model. Although dues are necessary to fund the organization’s staff, facilities, and projects, members are not simply hiring the union to act on their behalf.

The strength that we have derives not from the monies members pay, but instead from the solidarity members show. When members of the WGAE negotiate a strong contract for themselves, the strength of that contract chiefly comes not from the expertise of a professional negotiator — although the WGAE does indeed employ experienced and talented negotiators on its staff — but instead from the leverage the crew generates through its cohesion and commitment. Dues keep the lights on, but it’s solidarity that powers the union.

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.

VICE 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 VICE management to make all those decisions unilaterally on our behalf.

A signed authorization card is effectively a vote in favor of unionization. It’s an official statement that someone wants to be represented by the union and intends to become a full union member after the union wins recognition and a first contract.

We still refer to these authorizations as “cards,” because they’re traditionally documents printed on cardstock. But the National Labor Relations Board now recognizes statements submitted electronically. Whether you’ve put physical ink on an actual card, or submitted a statement of authorization via this website, you have “signed a card” for purposes of organizing.

Authorization cards are confidential. Management will never see the cards, nor will they receive any lists of who signed. Under certain circumstances, the cards may be shown to a neutral third party for purposes of verifying that a majority of the employees have chosen union representation. In such a situation, the third party shares no information with the company except whether or not the union has achieved majority status.

The National Labor Relations Act establishes employees’ right to engage in concerted activity — i.e., actions that a group of employees undertake together — for the purposes of improving the terms of their employment. Organizing to negotiate for a union contract is a textbook example of the kind of concerted activity that the law protects. It is illegal for an employer to interfere with its employees’ exercise of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

Yes, you have the same right as other VICE 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

We don’t yet know how VICE management will respond to our efforts to organize. We do, though, know what resistance other groups of employees have encountered when they’ve attempted to organize their employers.

In our industry and others, when employees in a non-union workplace are interested in organizing, management will often try to discourage them from doing so. It is illegal for a company to threaten retaliation or to promise rewards in order to thwart an organizing effort. The right to organize is enshrined in the National Labor Relations Act, and it is a violation of federal law for employers to interfere with employees’ exercise of that right.

But management has the legal ability to argue that unionization is a bad idea, and often they make such arguments in mandatory meetings all employees are forced to attend. The anti-union arguments management makes tend to cluster around three major themes: (1) employees should trust management to do what’s best for everyone, without management having to formally negotiate with employees; (2) the union can’t be trusted; and (3) sticking with the status quo is better than the uncertainty of trying to make change in the workplace.

Here are some of the typical talking points that you are likely to hear from management (or even, perhaps, some anti-union coworkers) as they try to raise employees’ anxieties and discourage organizing efforts:

“Trust management.”

  • “Management is already looking out for its employees’ best interests.”
  • “Management has new plans to address longstanding grievances.”
  • “There’s an open door policy that allows employees to address their concerns outside of formal negotiations.”
  • “The company is a family.”

“Be suspicious of the union.”

  • “The union is a business, rather than as a democratic organization advocating for employees.”
  • “The union is a third-party or outsider interfering with the company’s family.”
  • “Distrust union promises and guarantees.”
  • “Look at the high salaries of union bosses.”
  • “You will be forced pay the high cost of union dues, fees, and fines.”

“Worry about uncertainty.”

  • “Restrictive union rules will result in a lack of flexibility or competitiveness.”
  • “Unionizing raises the prospect of layoffs or closure.”
  • “It’s possible that contract negotiations could make terms of employment worse than they are now.”
  • “Unionizing means you would have to go on strike.”
  • “You would lose the ability to speak for yourself once you’re a union member.”

Sometimes this barrage of talking points works, and employees lose confidence in their ability to stand together to negotiate better terms with their employer. Defying one’s boss takes a lot of courage, and it’s always easier just to accept the status quo.

Employees who take the time to educate themselves realize that, across professions and industries, people do better when they bargain collectively.

As a union, you’ll decide as a group on your priorities and negotiate with the company with assistance from the WGAE. Currently, management has the discretion to make unilateral changes as they see fit without any employee input. By forming a union, you’ll gain more of a voice in the decision-making process, protect what you like about your job and propose improvements where needed. We all agree that flexibility is required to produce quality news, information and entertainment content. Also, Vice union employees did not lose flexibility when they negotiated their contract with VICE.

Contracts set minimums not maximums. The minimum is the lowest someone can get paid, not what you get paid. You can negotiate above the minimum.

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.

Yes, 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.


The Writer Guild of America, East is a labor union of thousands of creative professionals in motion pictures, television, cable, digital media, and broadcast news. For decades members of the Writers Guild have been fighting for better standards in compensation, benefits, working conditions, and the respect and dignity we deserve. Our mission is to build a community of creative professionals with the willingness to have each other’s backs and the power to secure a fair industry for those that make it work.


Take The First Step By Getting In Touch With An Organizer