By Rob Callahan
Post-production employees of VICE Media have voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new 3-year union agreement that dramatically shortens their working hours, significantly increases all employees’ hourly rates, and provides further raises for lower-paid employees. The new contract represents the culmination of months of negotiations between the media giant and the Motion Picture Editors Guild (IATSE Local 700).
Today we said enough is enough, a different way of working in film and TV is possible.Ilaria Polsonetti (Guild negotiating committee member)
The issue of work-life balance proved a central concern for VICE’s post-production employees in these contract talks. On that front, this new contract’s key achievement is its conversion of 50-hour workweeks to 40-hour workweeks, without any reduction in employees’ net weekly pay. (Such conversion results in an effective increase of 37.5% to an employee’s straight-time hourly rate.)
Under the terms of the deal, post-production employees on the lower end of the pay spectrum will see even larger pay increases, with the lowest-paid employees covered by the contract receiving an immediate raise of 48.4% to their straight-time hourly rates and 8% to their guaranteed net weekly pay. For every post-production job title at the company, the contractual minimum hourly rate (“scale”) will increase, with such increases ranging from 8.1% (for the top-paid position) to 48.4% (for the lowest-paid position). The contract also provides for future increases for employees who make above the contractual minimums (“overscale employees”), but who earn less than $200,000 annually. Moreover, covered employees will receive a $750 ratification bonus.
As winter storm Kenan blanketed Brooklyn in snow, VICE employees met via videoconference Saturday afternoon to review the contract and vote on ratification. To cheering and applause, the Guild members voted 97% in favor of ratification.
“I believe I speak for all of us when I say we’re incredibly pleased with the achievements we made with this contract, in particular the implementation of a forty-hour week,” said Ilaria Polsonetti, an editor for Vice News Tonight and a member of the union’s negotiating committee. “Behind every piece of content on a screen there are hundreds of talented workers losing sleep and time well-spent with their loved ones. Today we said enough is enough, a different way of working in film and TV is possible. I hope what we accomplished here can be a stepping stone towards reclaiming the healthier work-life balance that is so badly needed in our industry.”
“We are pleased that, in VICE, we had a bargaining partner who recognized that time off the clock is critical to workers’ well-being,” said Cathy Repola, National Executive Director of the Editors Guild and the union’s chief negotiator in these talks. “Our first union contract at VICE just over three years ago broke new ground with unprecedented guarantees that an employer respect its employees’ gendered pronouns, and we hope this new agreement also proves precedent-setting. Other employers in our industry should aspire to offer their employees the sort of sustainable, healthy hours our members at VICE will now enjoy.”
The Editors Guild represents approximately one hundred staff and freelance post-production employees based out of VICE’s Brooklyn headquarters, working to craft the brand’s digital video, broadcast news, and unscripted television. The Editors Guild represents nearly 8,900 post-production professionals nationally, and is a local of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees, the largest union of behind-the-scenes entertainment workers.