A union at Vox Media has taken the next step toward a potential strike against management as the expiration date for the group’s current contract draws near and negotiations for a successor agreement continue.
The governing council at the Writers Guild of America, East, which represents around 350 editorial and video staffers at the Polygon, The Verge and Eater publisher, voted unanimously Wednesday to authorize a strike for members at the company to start at 12 a.m. ET on June 13, as soon as the union’s first contract expires.
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This action does not set a strike in motion, but rather offers union leadership approval for a strike, should members at the company choose to authorize and then execute one. On June 1, the union said 95 percent of members had signed a strike pledge; next, members will participate in a strike authorization vote, which will take place in the next few days, according to the union. If the majority of members vote to authorize a strike, a strike could take place, with unit members determining when and if it will occur.
“The council of the Writers Guild of America, East takes strike authorization votes very seriously. Almost every one of us has experienced the stress of a work stoppage,” WGA East President Michael Winship said in a statement. “But we also fully understand the issues our members are fighting for at the bargaining table — from fair pay increases to successorship language protecting workers if their employing company is sold. Therefore, unanimously, we have voted to authorize a strike should the company not agree to a fair contract by June 13 at 12:00am ET.”
In a statement, a Vox Media spokesperson said, “We are actively engaged in bargaining, and, with bargaining scheduled on most days through the expiration of the contract, hope to reach a resolution at the table that we are all proud of.”
The current round of negotiations for the union’s next contract has been ongoing since January 2022, and four more bargaining sessions are currently scheduled between parties. Union member Monica Chin, a senior reviewer at The Verge, says the union’s current priorities in negotiations are aimed at providing members with “stable and satisfying long-term careers.” The union is advocating for guaranteed raises and benefits that account for inflation, contract language that will protect union benefits if the company undergoes a sale or merger, “more measures acknowledging workers’ loyalty and workers’ longevity and more investment in their personal growth” and “more commitments from the company when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion,” Chin says.
On social media, in an Action Network letter and in a story in The New York Times, union members have also suggested that in this round of talks the union is advocating for the restoration of contract-provided minimum salary increases that were not provided in 2020 (a Vox Media spokesperson told the Times that the entire company went without annual salary increases in 2020).
The Vox Media Union (which does not cover Vox Media employees at New York magazine, which was acquired by the company in the fall of 2019), was voluntarily recognized by management in early 2018. It took 14 months of negotiation to reach that first agreement, which established a $56,000 a year wage floor for full-time, exempt employees and annual raises between 2.75 and 3.5 percent, depending on an employee’s annual income, for the length of the contract.