What comes next for the workers at Vice Canada now that they have voted to join a union.
By H.G. Watson, Associate Editor
After announcing seven months ago that they had started organizing a union, Vice Canada workers made it official on June 2.
By a majority vote of 69 percent, Vice Canada workers chose to join the Canadian Media Guild. Voter turnout was 89 percent.
“We’re actually thrilled,” said Carmel Smyth, the president of CMG, who said the vote for the union came after a very “enthusiastic” organizing effort.
About 150 workers in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver working in editorial, marketing, production and post-production will be included in the new bargaining unit.
So now they are in the union—what comes next?
When the union organization effort was announced in December 2015, among the key concerns were higher wages and starting salaries, benefits for contract workers and better benefits for all staff, protection for contract workers, protection against terminations without cause, and the introduction of clear journalistic standards. Sources at Vice Canada told J-Source that there is a great desire for consistency in wages and pay grades as well.
Smyth said in the next few weeks they’ll begin setting in place a schedule with Vice Canada management so that they can come to a first collective agreement later in the year. Volunteers from among the Vice staff will make up the first bargaining committee.
According to Smyth, the first collective agreement will likely be fairly straightforward, since it’s the first one. “Nothing has to be perfect, because we have years to work out a lot of issues.”
Vice Canada president Ryan Archibald said in a statement that they support the “employees who have voted to unionize and those who have not.”
Smyth said that the company had been “gracious” thus far regarding the organization effort.
But for the workers and the union, the excitement about a successful organization effort is still strong. Vice Canada employees who spoke to J-Source said morale has been much improved among staff since the union vote.
“You know staff now are very educated,” said Smyth. “They’ve spent a lot of time and money gaining a lot of different skills and they expect to be able to earn a fair wage to earn a living and that isn’t always happening in the digital world.” That’s why, she noted, digital communications workers have decided to stand up for themselves.