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Vice Media video workers to unionize with writers and editors guilds

Video workers at Vice Media have chosen to join the Writers Guild of America, East, as well as the Motion Picture Editors Guild in a move that will unionize about 300 additional employees at the millennial-focused new media company.

The East Coast chapter of the writers guild already represents about 100 individuals working on written content for Vice, based in Brooklyn, N.Y..

On Thursday, the two guilds announced that a majority of Vice’s content creators had signed cards with the East Coast branch of the writers guild and that a majority of the company’s post-production workers had signed cards with the editors guild.

The announcement was based on a third-party check of cards submitted by Vice workers, according to the guilds. Vice’s organizing committee submitted a letter to Vice’s management in May requesting the company honor their decision to unionize. Vice leaders officially recognized the decision Thursday.

Union representation will now extend to staff and freelance employees working on video content for Vice.com, the Viceland cable channel and Vice programming on HBO.

“The WGAE knows it is essential for people who create content in this dynamic environment to have a seat at the table as the way the work is done — the way the content is made and distributed — continues to change,” Lowell Peterson, executive director of the WGAE, said in a statement.

“We have built a constructive relationship with Vice management and applaud the company for continuing to respect the right of its employees to engage in collective bargaining.”

A spokesperson for Vice said in a statement that the company would work with all its employees to “continue to advance a shared mission to make Vice home to the most innovative, entrepreneurial and progressive minds in media.”

“We hope these efforts will include collectively joining forces to ensure New York State is doing everything in its power to support our content creators and our Brooklyn headquarters.”

The WGAE has been actively working to organize new media newsrooms in New York. In February, members of the MTV News staff voted to unionize with the guild.

Vice targets millennial viewers with its often irreverent mix of news and pop culture commentary.

The company laid off about 60 staffers in July as it moved to refocus its mission more toward online video. The layoffs, which represented about 2% of the company’s estimated 3,000 employees, came on the heels of Vice’s June announcement that it had raised $450 million in investment from private equity firm TPG.

david.ng@latimes.com

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT


UPDATES:

5:58 p.m.: This article was updated with a statement from Vice Media.

This article was originally published at 5:35 p.m.

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