VICE workers decide they need a union

Gawker Media, Salon, the Guardian and, now, VICE.

Editorial employees at VICE Media have signed up with The Writers Guild of America, East, as had Gawker and Salon. Those at the Guardian went with a branch of the Communications Workers of America.

The VICE group is a small one of about 80 people. But the move continues a rapid recent trend of media workers opting for unionization and the clear hope of better wages and working conditions.

“The men and women who write, edit, and create content for Vice craft some of the most compelling stories available in the digital realm. They are finding innovative ways to reach people, to inform, to entertain and to engage,” said Lowell Peterson, executive director of the Writers Guild of America, East, in a press release.

The boss of VICE, Shane Smith, issued a formal statement that made him sound somewhat like American media's ranking gemologist:

I'm so proud of all my perfect diamonds here at VICE. 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.

That still begs the shining question of whether Smith, like management counterparts at Salon, will voluntarily recognize the union (and not force a formal vote overseen by a third party). A VICE spokesperson did not respond to inquiries on that lack of clarity.

The actual process of starting to bargain a contract would ensue if he does so, or if he forces a formal vote that the union wins.

Negotiations over a first contract have not started at any of the other companies that have voted for unionization.

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    James Warren

    New York City native, graduate of Collegiate School, Amherst College and Roosevelt University. Married to Cornelia Grumman, dad of Blair and Eliot. National columnist, U.S. News & World Report. Former managing editor and Washington Bureau Chief, Chicago Tribune.

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