MEDIA
08/07/2015 04:18 pm ET Updated Aug 10, 2015

Vice Media Votes To Unionize As Trend In Digital Media Continues

Gawker, Salon, and Guardian US have led the way.

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 union. 

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