The first digital media company to be unionized in Canada now has a collective agreement in place that gives workers major gains in salaries and benefits, stronger equity provisions and measures to protect editorial independence.
It is a first contract for the 170 VICE employees across the country, who joined CWA Canada’s largest Local, the Canadian Media Guild (CMG), last June. The members, who work in editorial, production, ad agency, post production and building operations, voted 94.7 per cent in favour of ratifying the three-year tentative agreement.
The deal between the CMG and the global digital media giant was reached after nine months of intense negotiations and was tentatively agreed on March 31. The company ratified the deal on Friday. It is retroactive to Jan. 1.
Employees will see immediate wage increases ranging from two per cent to 52.5 per cent based on the negotiated salary grid, with an average increase of nine per cent. There are annual increases of 2.0 per cent this year and 2.5 per cent in both 2018 and 2019.
The collective agreement builds in pay equity provisions, guards editorial independence, increases vacation, doubles the number of paid sick days, improves parental leave benefits, strengthens protections for contract employees, defends the right to do outside work, improves severance, and establishes fair arbitration and dispute resolution procedures.
This is also the first news organization in the country to include contract language regarding interns that is modeled on a policy drafted by CWA Canada’s associate members and adopted at the union’s annual National Representative Council meeting in April 2015. (The agreement gives VICE interns a wage increase to $15 an hour.)
“This first contract sets us on the right path here as workers at VICE,” said Maggie McCaw, a member of the CMG negotiating committee. “We organized because we all agreed that the long hours, creative passion, and professional experience we were investing here were not being recognized fairly by management. This agreement ensures that everyone at VICE will be paid fairly for the work they do and will be treated with respect across the board – from interns all the way up to managing editors. It is an agreement that all of VICE staff and management can be proud of.”
CMG President Kamala Rao congratulated members for their determination and focus on tangible results that will improve their lives, both at work and beyond.
“CMG members at VICE have done what is required to make the improvements they deserve. They’ve pulled together in a union, our union, to strengthen their voices at work,” Rao said.
“This is a day for celebration. Workers at VICE have demonstrated that securing fair pay and benefits, guarding editorial independence, and doing things like making gains in the areas of equity is still possible. They’ve shown that making things better now, as always, requires focus, a willingness to take some real risks, and to hold your ground collectively.”
CMG worked with VICE and an outside pay equity consultant to review the compensation structure and make recommended individual adjustments which are being implemented as a result of this study. As a part of the new agreement, the CMG and VICE will continue to do periodic, proactive assessments to ensure pay equity is maintained.