We hear a lot of enthusiasm about having a union at Vice to have a voice and to fix issues that are common today at media workplaces. We’re also hearing some questions about whether having a union is the right fit for you. We think so.
But won’t the union create rigid rules that kill opportunities at VICE?
That’s not how it works. As a union, you’ll decide as a group on your priorities and negotiate standards that give everyone things they can count on. These could be things like fair pay and benefits for everyone, including contract workers; decent working hours and overtime pay; ways to solve workplace problems and to learn about how major decisions will affect you. And more…
Ok, but some people say a union will come in with a bunch of rules that will mess things up.
The union is you – really. You won’t have a union unless a majority of you vote for a union. You will set your own priorities and negotiate with the company with help from CMG. You will start with a clean sheet and set down what you as a group want to negotiate. It will become an agreement if a majority of you vote in favour of it. This means the agreement that’s worked out will suit your needs and the needs of the company. That’s how it works. For example, from what we’re hearing, a lot of people don’t want rules that prevent people from moving to different jobs within the company or trying new things. If that’s the case, then you wouldn’t negotiate restrictive rules like that into the agreement.
I’m also hearing that unions can’t help contract workers . . .
Vice has a lot of contract workers. So it stands to reason that the issues affecting contract workers will be front and centre. Union agreements can do a lot for contract workers: establish fair rates, benefits or payment in lieu of benefits, help in negotiating contracts, and even protection from being terminated for no good reason. CMG agreements in other workplaces include these types of standards for contract workers.
Are you saying that people can’t get fired if they’re in the union?
More like management needs to demonstrate they have a good reason if they want to let someone go or terminate a contract early. And workers have the opportunity to defend themselves with the help of the union. It’s an important measure of protection you don’t have right now.
When you say fair pay, what do you mean? Will we all have to get the same amount?
Not at all. Typically, a union in the media will negotiate base rates for each job. Often, management has the right to pay above this scale and employees can negotiate for above-scale pay.
Ok, and what if my rate is above scale now? Will it come down to the negotiated scale?
You wouldn’t negotiate wage cuts for members! The smarter move would be to focus on bringing up the lowest wages.
Who can I talk to if I want more information or want to sign a card?
Email or phone firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-578-1651. She’ll be happy to talk or put you in touch with someone inside VICE who is on the organizing committee. Everything is confidential.