Vice Media writers vote to unionize

Writers at Vice Media have voted to unionize, adding momentum to the recent push by digital journalists to organize.

The Vice staffers will join the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), which represents professionals working in TV, film and online media.

"We are proud of the work we do here at Vice," the writers said in a letter to company founder and CEO Shane Smith. "We love being part of a company that is changing media and having an impact on the world. We believe that a union is a logical step for the long-term legacy of the company."

Vice's management approved the request to join the WGAE, the union said in a news release.

Vice is one of several media organizations where workers have recently moved to seek union representation. Employees at Gawker Media, an online publisher whose properties include Gawker, Deadspin and Jezebel, in June voted to join the WGAE. The staff at Salon Media Group, a provider of online news and other content, and U.S. employees of U.K. daily The Guardian also unionized last month.

Those efforts, while notable for being the first by domestic online media workers to seek collective bargaining and other rights, involved a fairly small number of employees. Vice Media, which has more than 1,500 workers around the world, is much bigger.

""The men and women who write, edit and create content for Vice craft some of the most compelling stories available in the digital realm," said Lowell Peterson, executive director of the WGAE, in a statement. "They are find innovative ways to reach people, to inform, to entertain and to engage."

The labor drive in media also contrasts with a long decline in union membership across the U.S. Just over 11 percent of workers belong to unions, down from a peak of roughly 27 percent in 1952, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As of 2014, less than 7 percent of private-sector employees were union members.

Vice started as a free punk magazine in Montreal 20 years ago. In recent years, it has branched out into video, TV, film and publishing, and also operates a website, Vice.com.

The company's rapid growth has attracted $500 million in funding from A&E Networks and investment firm Technology Crossover Ventures. That investment valued Vice at more than $2 billion.

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