Digital Writers Union | Vox Media Union
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Vox Media Union

What We’re Up To

      Follow @Vox_Union on Twitter!

In June 2019—after a daylong walkout of the entire unit on June 6, followed by a 29-hour-long bargaining session—the Vox Media Union ratified their first contract.

 

The agreement includes:

 

  • A $56,000 minimum for exempt employees; a $53,000 minimum for OT-eligible employees (plus a six-tier minimum wage scale by job category);
  • A 3.5% retroactive raise to July 1, 2018, for everyone in the bargaining unit, except for employees hired since July 1, 2018, and employees who earned a raise in excess of $10,001 since July 1, 2018. Employees who earned a raise of less than $10,001 since July 1, 2018, will receive a 2.5% retroactive raise to last July;
  • Employees who earn less than $95,000 will receive a 3.5% raise in the first year of the contract and 3.25% raises in the second year of the contract. Employees earning above $95,000 will receive increases of 3% the first year of the contact and 2.75% the second year of the contract. In the third year of the contract, employees who earn less than $98,100 will receive a 3.25% raise and employees who earn more than $98.100 will receive a 2.75% raise;
  • The company will provide health benefits for part-time employees who work 20 or more hours per week;
  • 16 weeks of paid parental leave;
  • 4 weeks of paid leave to care for an ill immediate family member;
  • 10 days of bereavement leave, with additional access to unlimited PTO;
  • The company commits that 40% of the people in the applicant pool to make it beyond the phone interview stage in the hiring process will be from underrepresented backgrounds. This number will be 50% for the highest-paid, most senior positions;
  • Language ensuring the company will honor preferred gender pronouns and provide access to gender-neutral bathrooms;
  • Each vertical will maintain and regularly distribute a policy to promote diverse sourcing and freelancing bylines;
  • Recuperation Time when employees work unusually long hours, on six or more days in a row, on a company holiday, or when they travel for work on a regular day off. This time will be separate and apart from PTO;
  • Total elimination of forced arbitration;
  • Total elimination of non-competes for current unit employees; going forward, the company will have the opportunity to negotiate non-competes for new hires earning more than $150,000, and the union will have to consent to any such agreement;
  • When the Company sells employees’ editorial content to a third party, the employee(s) who were significantly involved in the creation of the content will share in a revenue pool equal to 4% of the purchase price, up to a total pool of $75,000;
  • When Vox Media creates derivative content based on employees’ work and produces it for a third-party distributor (e.g., Netflix, Hulu), the employee(s) who were significantly involved in the creation of the original content will share in a revenue pool equal to 2% of the Company’s Producer Fee, up to a total pool of $100,000;
  • Enhanced editorial standards that state that editorial content creators will never be forced to work on anything over which advertisers have approval;
  • All temporary employees will be in the bargaining unit, and can be temporary for no longer than one year and two weeks;
  • Protections against the company laying off unit members and replacing them with contractors
  • Terminations & severance language that includes Just cause and a minimum of 11 weeks’ severance for layoffs (11 weeks’ severance for 0-3 years of service time, plus 1 additional week per year of service capped at 18 weeks);
  • Union security.

 

You can read more about the contract highlights here.

The Vox Media Union began bargaining their contract in April 2018, and live-streamed a bargaining explainer from the table (video begins at 74:00).


In May, the bargaining committee found out about a labor dispute at Terranea Resort, the hotel where Vox Media’s Code Conference would be held later in the month. The committee released a statement in support of the hotel workers, and Vox Media has committed to finding a new location for the 2019 conference if Terranea Resort does not reach an agreement with workers.


The Vox Media Union continues to share bargaining updates and news on Twitter: @vox_union.

Victory!

A message from the organizing committee:

 

“On January 10, 2018, we reached an agreement with Vox Media’s management to obtain recognition for the Vox Media Union. We have worked hard to form a unit that represents the people who build this company every day and want to look out for each other. That work has finally paid off.

 

We won recognition of our union thanks to our unity and resolve, and now we will have a seat at the table to advocate for the needs and priorities of creative staff.

 

Though it’s taken some time, we’re glad that Vox Media has lived up to its stated values and respected the wishes of its employees. We began bargaining on April 11, and are eager to have a discussion with the company about how to make this place even better.

 

We’ve reached this point by staying unified and energized. We’ll need to carry our momentum to the bargaining table in the months ahead.”

Why We’re Organizing

Vox Media’s editorial and video staff are proud to announce we are unionizing with the Writers Guild of America, East. Across eight verticals, we are committed to smart, in-depth journalism and storytelling on every platform. Vox Media’s commitment to quality and innovation, as well as its core values emphasizing ambition, collaboration, and respect, have made this one of the best places to work in the industry. There is no better way to cultivate that innovation, and champion our values, than to unionize.

 

By organizing, we intend to protect the nimble culture and inclusive, forward-thinking values that make this company great, and to ensure all concerns and challenges can be addressed by a collective voice. An empowered team is an ambitious team, and the greater transparency and collaboration offered by a union will allow us to thrive and take risks in an ever-changing industry.

 

Most importantly, a union will offer a company of far-flung co-workers a robust sense of community and nurture a culture of respect. An organized workforce provides support for each employee, and any one of us in need should feel empowered by the rest of us.

 

Unions have made traditional newsrooms across America stronger and better for decades, and we’re excited to join the movement in digital media to bring these protections to this industry. From new hires to longtime employees, we are eager to continue our leadership in digital media, and to do so we need a seat at the table as Vox Media charts its future.

 

Here are a few key issues we seek to address.

 

Protecting and strengthening our culture

Vox Media is an excellent place to work; it is also a grown-up corporation still bearing artifacts of a young start-up. Employees want the company to stay flexible and evolve. We also want consistency in titles, salaries, raises, and benefits, all of which can become arbitrary if unchecked or opaque. We expect transparency around company hierarchy and paths for career growth within it, including standard cost-of-living raises in salary.

Vox Media will eventually buy or sell properties, engage with investors and advertisers, and perhaps discipline or lay off employees. In any such case, we want to preserve our benefits, to ensure our fair share of capital, and to protect individuals and their work from forces outside their control.

 

Increasing transparency and communication

We want increased transparency in times of growth or crisis, before and after major decisions, and accountability within the company’s existing editorial and management structures to ensure that all actions are sensible, fair, and consistent across all Vox Media-owned brands. Much of Vox Media’s workforce is employed remotely, and organizing allows us to ensure that all of these employees, including part-time staffers and freelance contributors, are treated fairly in terms of compensation and expectation.

 

Holding Vox Media accountable for diversity

We want to foster a diverse workforce, and an environment that promotes and respects that diversity. We also want to ensure Vox Media is a safe work environment for every employee. We seek a continued commitment to hiring inclusively, a focus on promoting people of color within the company, and formal processes for addressing when company culture fails to reflect these values.

 

Ensuring our seat at the table

A Vox Media union will give us the means to maintain everything we love about working for this company, and to have a collective voice when we address anything that may change or founder. We look forward to bringing Vox Media employees together as an organized unit, and bringing that unit closer to management at the bargaining table and beyond.