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Why we are unionizing at Vice Canada

Like our editorial colleagues in the New York office, a number of us at VICE Canada from several departments have decided to begin the process of unionizing. We are working with the Canadian Media Guild (CMG), and many people have signed cards pledging their support over the past few weeks.

In Canada, we’re hoping to include everyone—not just editorial staff. Some information on the process of unionizing is linked here, but you should know that if you choose to sign a card it will be completely confidential (only the union and labour board will see it).

We’ll be having an important meeting in Toronto at William’s Landing (120 Lynn Williams Street) between 6 and 8 p.m. on Wednesday, December 16 where we can discuss all of this in greater detail, and we strongly encourage you to come by at any point. It will be in a private meeting room. Whether you’re on the fence or ready to sign a card, we’d love to see you there. Our goal is to collect as many cards as possible by the end of the week. If you can’t attend Wednesday’s meeting, but are interested in signing a card or learning more, be sure to speak with a union organizer before then.

We believe that, given the opportunity to negotiate a new contract together (which is what unionizing really entails), we can come up with an agreement that is beneficial to us as employees of VICE, and to VICE management as well. Other workplaces seem to have the same feeling: since June, several digital media sites in the States have voted to unionize, including the US VICE staff; Gawker Media; Huffington Post; Al Jazeera English; Salon; and the Guardian US. We fully appreciate the steps management has taken to make this a great place to work, but we have some key concerns that we believe can only be addressed by all of us working together. Some of these differ for employees in different departments, while some affect us all:

-Contract workers being included in benefits while they are working with VICE

-as management’s email noted, only permanent, full-time staff are eligible for the benefits highlighted

-Better salaries

-entry-level positions at BuzzFeed, valued at $1.5 billion compared to VICE’s $4 billion, are paid at higher rates [edited] in Canada; at unionized workplaces in Toronto, writers and social media managers make about the same to start.

-Better benefits

-US VICE employees receive 15 days of vacation to start, and other media companies in Toronto offer more comprehensive vacation, health, and parental benefits

-Consistency in salaries and contracts for similar work

-Protections for contract employees

-Protection from being fired without reason for all employees

-More transparency and communication between management and employees

-Clear journalistic standards

We all enjoy working for a place that allows us incredible flexibility, in terms of both what we do and how we do it, and we want a collective agreement that will reflect and keep that freedom. What we’re looking for is a guarantee of some basic standards, because the employee handbook and other promises from management are not legally binding; only a collective agreement is.

Everyone has the choice to support a union or not. If you have more questions about why we’re doing this, what having a union in the office would mean, or anything else, please get in touch with Karen Wirsig at CMG (karen@cmg.ca, 416-578-1651) or Tannara Yelland (tannarayelland@gmail.com, 647-459-0729).

We will be meeting at William’s Landing (120 Lynn Williams Street) between 6 and 8 p.m. on Wednesday and welcome everyone to attend to talk to us, each other, and some representatives from CMG.

We look forward to seeing you all on Wednesday!

More: Everything you wanted to know about forming a union but forgot to ask

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