Vice Media Votes To Unionize As Trend In Digital Media Continues

Shane Smith, co-founder and CEO of Vice Media, is seen in an undated photo. | Credit: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

NEW YORK — Writers at Vice Media, the Brooklyn-based digital media company valued at $2.5 billion, have voted to unionize, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

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 plan to join the Writers Guild of America, East. Management has been notified of the vote, and the next step will be to see whether it recognizes the union. 

A Vice spokesman had no immediate comment. 

Vice Media has 1,500 employees worldwide, 700 of whom are 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. 

A WGE-East spokesman had no immediate comment. 

Vice, which started out as a punk magazine in the mid-’90s, has grown into a media juggernaut with a 30,000-square-foot headquarters in Brooklyn and dozens of offices worldwide. 

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. 

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