On International Workers Day, Vice Canada and CMG announced that they had agreed on a new contract.

By H.G. Watson, Managing Editor

The union representing Vice Canada workers announced they have ratified their first collective agreement on May 1.

Members of the Canadian Media Guild at Vice Canada say that their new collective agreement affirms the editorial independence of staffers and increases pay across the board. It also guarantees benefits such as increased vacation and sick days, the right to do outside work and stronger protection for contract employees.

“This first contract sets us on the right path here as workers at VICE,” said Maggie McCaw, a member of the CMG negotiating committee, in a statement provided by CMG. “We organized because we all agreed that the long hours, creative passion, and professional experience we were investing here were not being recognized fairly by management.”

Among the key concerns for staff when the organizing campaign was announced in December 2015 were higher wages and starting salaries, benefits for contract workers and better benefits for all staff. The union also sought protection for contract workers, assurances against terminations without cause, and the introduction of clear journalistic standards.

In a statement, Ryan Archibald, president of Vice Canada, said it is happy to have reached a deal with CMG. “This agreement meets the needs of our employees, helps us to continue to attract the best creative minds in the country while protecting the creative spirit that defines us,” he said.

Under the new agreement, staff pay will tentatively range from $31,500—for interns—to $76,500 for senior staff (some jobs are still be rated). At a time where intern rights are still top of mind for many young journalists, the agreement specifically states that Vice will pay interns.

Article 17 of the new agreement also says that staff cannot work on any content that is subject to third party approval—otherwise known as sponsored content.

Vice was founded in Montreal in 1994. Initially a very small, independent media company that produced Vice magazine, it has expanded into a multinational company valued at US$4 billion. In Canada, the company entered into a partnership with Rogers Communications to start Viceland, a 24-hour cable channel in 2015. As a result, it hired 100 new staff to produce content for the channel.

Vice workers in the United States formed a union and signed their first collective agreement in 2016.

H.G. Watson was J-Source's managing editor from 2015 to 2018. She is a journalist based in Toronto. You can learn more about her at hgwatson.com.