VICE Canada workers facing job cuts as their employer ends a joint venture with Rogers Media can take some comfort in knowing they have a collective agreement to protect them.
They voted in May 2016 to join CWA Canada’s biggest Local, the Canadian Media Guild (CMG), and had their first collective agreement one year later. The bargaining unit includes about 200 people who work in editorial, production, post-production, marketing, design and administration in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
Maggie McCaw, president of CMG’s VICE Canada branch, said the union has been informed that a total of 23 contract and permanent positions are to be eliminated.
CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon said he was “very sorry to hear about the job cuts at VICE Canada, where we represent the talented and dedicated staff … The union will do all it can to lessen the impacts of the cuts and help members through this tough time.”
Kamala Rao, CMG president, said the collective agreement includes protections for members facing layoff.
“CMG staff will also be with members to talk through your options,” Rao said. “That includes discussing a provision … that allows for employees interested in a voluntary layoff to indicate your availability.”
She noted that permanent employees who end up being laid off will have severance and recall rights.
CWA Canada also offers a $500 training/education grant for any members who are laid off or who take a buyout to avert a layoff.
Despite the layoffs, VICE Canada President Ryan Archibald said in a news release that the company “will continue to grow in Canada in 2018. We have a lot of opportunity ahead of us and will be announcing some new exciting partnerships soon.”
The terminated $100-million partnership, in which VICE created content for Rogers’ networks, included establishment of a production studio and television channel, Viceland, a money-loser that will cease broadcasting at the end of March.
Since starting out in 1994 as a monthly Montreal magazine, VICE has grown into a $6-billion global media company with operations in more than 30 countries.
The company has been roiled recently by news reports, including a New York Times investigation, of sexual harassment in the workplace and a toxic corporate culture.
The CMG, in a message to members at VICE Canada, assured them that the union “will not tolerate sexual harassment … at our workplace” and that staff were available to discuss such instances in confidence.