By now you have probably seen Nancy Dubuc’s email in response to the Wall Street Journal article published Tuesday evening regarding a leaked memo with some distressing info about potential layoffs and office closures. Titled Vice Media Document Lays Out Plan for Layoffs Amid Coronavirus Pandemic, the story reads in part:
“The health crisis is making it more urgent for Ms. Dubuc to transform and streamline the company. The document suggests Vice is looking to rein in international costs. One analysis in the internal document calculated that many European markets like Germany, Spain and the Netherlands had relatively large staffs for the amount of web traffic they brought in. The document said the company could potentially close its office in Canada, Vice’s birthplace, but the spokeswoman denied that is being considered.”
In our experience, leaked memos to the press have preceded some dark days at the office, and unfortunately, Nancy didn’t explicitly deny any of the proposals.
We understand what a shock the article may have been to read. No one in the union either here or in the U.S. were given a heads up—which in a small way, is reassuring. It gives us time to plan.
According to our collective agreement, in the event of layoffs, the company is obligated to meet with the union at least three weeks before to discuss alternatives. If events are beyond VICE’s control, the company should give us as much notice as possible. Our severance is protected, pandemic or not: two weeks per year of service. We have reiterated this to VICE management.
We have asked the company for a meeting as soon as possible to talk about what might happen to VICE Canada and if any of these proposals that could directly affect our membership are seriously being considered. We’re also reaching out to Nancy tonight directly with these same questions.
In our meeting with the company we will propose alternatives to the reduction of staff or hours, such as:
-applying for the emergency wage subsidy if VICE Canada is eligible;
-applying for commercial rent relief;
-Nancy and other top executives taking a $0 wage for three months;
-closing down the physical office and working remotely.
Please let us know if you have other ideas as soon as possible and we will be sure to include them in our communications with the company. We will let you know what we learn, and keep you updated on any collective steps we may need to take as a union to ensure our voices are heard.