As the Hearst Magazines union battle wages on, there has been progress at another news organization.
Refinery29 has reached an agreement for its 40-person editorial staff to work under the collective bargaining agreement negotiated by Vice Media Group and the Writers Guild of America, East.
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In November, New York-based Vice acquired the digital media company for Millennial women, founded in 2005 by husband-and-wife team Philippe von Borries and Piera Gelardi, along with Christene Barberich and Justin Stefano, in a $400 million deal.
“When Refinery29 employees organized with the Guild, they wanted to protect the company’s progressive, creative and fearless spirit in a rapidly changing media industry, and their landscape did dramatically change a few months later when the company was acquired by Vice,” said Lowell Peterson, executive director of the WGAE.
“We are pleased that Refinery29 employees will now work under one of the most forward-thinking and progressive contracts in digital media,” he added.
Among others, the agreement stipulated minimum starting salaries of $52,000, guaranteed salary increases in each year of the contract, editorial independence, as well as allowance for employees to bring a union representative to report potential harassment complaints.
In January, Refinery29’s management recognized editorial’s efforts to unionize just two weeks after they announced their intentions. Recognition is the first step toward negotiating a collective bargaining agreement.
In contrast, it doesn’t appear it will be so easy at Hearst, where executives have been quick to adopt a hard line when it comes to unionization. Staffers announced their plans last month.
This has resulted in the Hearst Magazine Media Union filing for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board.
“We are disappointed with Hearst management’s refusal to recognize our union voluntarily, but we will go through this process to certify our union and proceed to the bargaining table,” it said.