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NEW YORK -- Writers at Vice Media, the Brooklyn-based digital media company valued at $2.5 billion, have voted to unionize.
Vice employees sent a letter Friday to CEO Shane Smith and other top executives.
"We are proud of the work we do here at Vice," it read. "We love being part of a company that is changing media and having an impact on the world. We believe that a union is a logical step for the long-term legacy of the company."
Vice management agreed to recognize the union and the two sides will begin collective bargaining.
"I'm so proud of all my perfect diamonds here at Vice," Smith said in a statement. "Every single day your ideas and work continue to blow me away. I am proud to support all of you -- and as an old grey-haired man all I want is for my beautiful Vice family to be happy -- those writers who voted to unionize and those who did not. I love you all, and together we will conquer the world."
Vice is the largest digital media company to unionize amid a string of recent organizing efforts. While employees at legacy media companies have long had opportunities to join unions, there's been little representation in the digital world.
Gawker sparked discussions about unionizing this spring with a debate among staff that took place more or less in public on the site. The employees voted in June to form a union. Salon followed suit last month, and Guardian US voted unanimously to unionize just last week. Other digital media companies are believed to be contemplating similar efforts.
Like Salon and Gawker, writers at Vice Media are represented by the Writers Guild of America, East. Lowell Peterson, executive director of the Writers Guild of America, East, said in a statement the union "is excited to work with these creative professionals, who want and deserve a seat at the table.”
The Wall Street Journal first reported on Vice writers' vote to unionize.
Vice Media has 1,500 employees worldwide, including 700 in the United States. Roughly 10 percent of the company's U.S.-based employees are writers. At Gawker, 118 employees were eligible for the union. There were 26 and 45 union-eligible employees at Salon and Guardian US, respectively.
Starting out as a punk magazine in the mid-'90s, Vice has grown into a media juggernaut with a 30,000-square-foot headquarters in Brooklyn and dozens of offices worldwide.
Vice chief operating officer Alyssa Mastromonaco touted the company's growth in a statement, saying "every step of that dizzying growth has been a reinvention of what Vice does and how it’s done."
"That includes the never-ending process of building the most progressive workplace we can, which today includes giving employees 100's of millions of dollars in company equity, competitive salaries, paid leave and now tuition reimbursement," Mastromonaco continued. "Through these steps and others, Vice will continue doing whatever it takes to attract and retain the worlds best creative minds."
The Journal reported that in 2013, Vice management acknowledged that it paid editorial writers an average of $45,000 a year. A source told the Journal that the average for non-management employees is now close to $70,000.
This has been updated to include statements from the company and the...
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NEW YORK – The staff of the Guardian US voted unanimously Wednesday to unionize under the News Media Guild, an action that comes amid a spate of labor organizing in newsrooms.
"The Guardian has a long tradition of supporting union effort," a spokeswoman for the Guardian US chapter of the News Media Guild said in an email to The Huffington Post.
"The move by Guardian US editorial staff to seek collective representation is consistent with the strong history of working in strong partnership with unions in the UK and Australia," she continued. "The vote was unanimous and we look forward to working constructively with Guardian management moving forward."
The Guardian, a British newspaper and widely read international news site, launched a New York-based U.S. edition in 2011. Guardian US led the news organization’s reporting in 2013 on disclosures from National Security Administration whistleblower Edward Snowden, winning a Pulitzer Prize in Public Service the following year.
In a separate statement, Guardian US staff thanked new U.S. editor Lee Glendinning for "immediately welcom[ing] our initiative to seek collective representation."
"Our discussions with Guardian management have been conducted in a constructive manner and we're confident we can all achieve our stated goal -- a long-term, sustainable future for the Guardian and its quality journalism," read the statement, which appears in full below.
The Guardian US's move Wednesday comes as unionizing is increasingly discussed in newsrooms, especially as digital news sites without a legacy of collective bargaining have organized. Gawker voted to unionize in June and Salon announced plans to do so earlier this month.
On Tuesday, Mike Elk, a labor reporter at Politico who is trying to organize his own newsroom, broached the topic with Vermont senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
The NewsGuild, part of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), now represents over 2,000 digital workers at outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Associated Press and The Daily Beast. The News Media Guild is the local chapter of the NewsGuild.
A NewsGuild-CWA spokeswoman told The Huffington Post the union is currently in active campaigns with other digital media organizations.
Union leaders praised the Guardian US's organizing effort in statements Wednesday.
“The Guardian has a history of great reporting that continues today,” said Martha Waggoner, president of The News Media Guild, the local chapter that Guardian US staffers will join. “It’s a publication with a grand tradition of unionism that now includes its U.S. writers.”
Bernard Lunzer, president of The NewsGuild-CWA, said it's “a big day not only for the writers and staff members at The Guardian US but for the news industry as a whole.”
“Digital media is growing up,” he continued, “and it’s time our digital reporters received the same benefits and protections as their print media colleagues.”
We are proud to announce that the editorial staff of Guardian US have voted unanimously in favor of collective representation under the auspices of the News Media Guild, following a ballot which was conducted independently by the American Arbitration Association. The union has been voluntarily recognized by Guardian News & Media LLC following the result of that ballot.
We would like to thank the News Media Guild and the Communications Workers of America for their invaluable help, advice and support. Furthermore, we greatly appreciate the support shown by our unionized editorial colleagues in the UK and Australia, where the Guardian has a strong history of working in partnership with its unions.
We are also grateful to the leadership shown by the Guardian US editor, Lee Glendinning, who immediately welcomed our initiative to seek collective representation. Our discussions with Guardian management have been conducted in a constructive manner and we're confident we can all achieve our stated goal - a long-term, sustainable future for the Guardian and its quality journalism.
Guardian US is in the process of rapid growth, which has been reflected by increasing audience figures and groundbreaking journalism, from our Pulitzer prize-winning Edward Snowden disclosures to our current work highlighting police-related deaths through The Counted project. Together we look forward to continuing to enhance the Guardian’s reputation as one of the most read, most respected and most trusted news organisations in the US.
This article has been updated with statements from...
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