Vox Media Union Members Ratify New Contract Following Strike Threat

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Editorial and video staffers at Vox Media have overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year union contract, the Writers Guild of America East announced on Thursday.

Three hundred and forty staffers within the more than 360-member bargaining unit voted in favor of the Vox Media Union’s second-ever agreement, while one staffer rejected the tentative deal. Ninety-five percent of the bargaining unit — which covers publications such as Polygon and Eater — turned out to vote on the deal, which secured higher base salaries for the union’s lowest-paid members and annual salary increases, changes to benefits language and a newly amplified severance package.

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“After six months of bargaining, we’re thrilled to have ratified our second collective bargaining agreement, which we believe to be a truly industry-leading contract that secures so much for our members,” the Vox Media bargaining committee said in a statement. “This contract would not have been possible without the incredible solidarity we saw from our more than 360 members, who held management’s feet to the fire, and were prepared to strike on June 13 if we didn’t get a deal. We often hear from members that the union was what made them want to work at Vox Media, and we’re so proud of this contract that has secured the wage increases and benefits that all of our members deserve.”

According to the union, the current salary floor of $53,000 a year for the lowest-paid non-salaried employees at the company will rise to $65,000 (in addition to overtime) by the end of the three-year agreement, while the minimum for salaried employees will rise to $66,000. Starting July 1, employees will receive the new minimum rate for their work tier if they make below that minimum or a 4 percent raise if they make under $100,000 a year and a 3 percent raise if they make over $100,000 a year. Staffers will also see annual minimum salary increases of 3.25 percent (for those making under $100,000 a year) and 2.75 percent (for those making over $100,000) in subsequent years of the contract.

Other gains include 20 weeks of paid parental leave, an expansion of circumstances that can trigger bereavement leave, contract language regarding sabbaticals and a 12-week minimum severance packages. The contract prohibits the use of non-disclosure agreements in cases of harassment or discrimination, establishes a minimum 3 percent 401(K) match, establishes a 10 percent ceiling on increases to healthcare premiums year over year, includes a successorship clause in the event of a sale or merger and sets Vox Media on a course to “create a policy on critical healthcare that includes guaranteed access to abortion and gender-affirming care, regardless of where in the U.S. union members live,” the Vox Media Union tweeted on Thursday. The union says the contract also states that if an employee is paid 15 percent below the average for their role within their publication, Vox Media will initiate an investigation.

There are also several changes aimed at preventing burnout: Part-time workers will be able to accumulate paid time off as part of the new contract and the contract defines a work week as 40 hours and further establishes a minimum 10-hour turnaround time between work days. Moreover: “As part of our unlimited PTO policy, our contract makes it clear that we are encouraged to take at least 20 days off per year,” the Vox Media Union tweeted.

A tentative deal on the new contract was struck on June 11, the weekend before the union’s first contract was set to expire. The union had begun threatening to strike if a deal wasn’t reached by Monday, June 13 at 12 a.m. ET, with 95 percent of the bargaining unit signing a strike pledge and the WGA East Council unanimously voting to authorize a strike once the deal had expired.

In a statement, the WGA East’s executive director Lowell Peterson said, “The whole Guild stood in solidarity with our members at Vox, who were prepared to demonstrate their commitment to making real gains. This agreement proves the power of collective action.”

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