The Canadian Media Guild (CMG) applied today to the Canada Industrial Relations Board for the right to represent employees at VICE Canada.
“A strong majority of employees at VICE across Canada have signed a union card and we are delighted to welcome them into our union,” says Carmel Smyth, national president of the CMG. “We look forward to supporting them to find their collective voice in the workplace and to negotiate the kinds of progressive working conditions and benefits that digital media workers expect in 2016.”
The workers seeking to form a union at VICE Canada work in the editorial, marketing and production/post-production departments. They create the innovative digital and television content that has made VICE a successful media company in Canada and around the world.
Martin O’Hanlon, president of CWA Canada, the CMG’s parent union, called it a “tremendous day for digital media workers in Canada.”
“We’ve heard from creative and digital media workers that they want fair pay, benefits, and sustainable working conditions,” O’Hanlon said. “The decision by Vice Canada staff to unionize is a first step to a better life for them, and it is a beacon for others to follow.”
In the coming days, the labour board will organize a secret ballot vote of employees to confirm their right to form a union.
Vice Canada joins a growing list of digital media companies where employees have unionized including Huffington Post, Gawker, Salon, and the Guardian’s online service. Vice Media was founded in Montreal and is now based in Brooklyn, New York. It has Canadian offices in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.
The Canadian Media Guild (CMG) is 6000 journalists, hosts producers, technicians, videographers, editors, librarians, programmers, sales reps, administrative staff and freelancers.
A union at VICE: fast facts
-VICE brands itself as “world’s leading youth media company”, founded in Montreal as a magazine in 1994, now based in Brooklyn, New York.
-Has international network of digital channels, TV and film studio, magazine, record label, book publishing division. Launched VICE News in 2014.
-Revenue $915 million (US), assets $2.5 billion (US). 20% stake held by A & E
-Formed a partnership with Rogers to launch VICE Studio Canada in 2015; specialty TV network VICELAND was launched in Canada in February 2016
-Has operations in 35 countries including Canada, with offices in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver
-US editorial employees joined Writers Guild of America East in 2015, UK employees now seeking union recognition through the National Union Journalists
-Vice employees in the US who recently unionized just negotiated a 29% pay increase
-Issues important to Canadian employees seeking representation by CMG: fair pay, sustainable hours of work and overtime, clear journalistic rules and policy, rights for people on contract
-Certifying the union: the CMG has applied to the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) and must demonstrate that at least 40% of employees in the proposed Canada-wide bargaining unit have signed a card to apply for membership in the union. Given the 40% threshold has been met, the CIRB will hold a vote of employees in 12 days’ time.