Vice freelancers: The CMG wants to hear from you

If you’re a regular freelancer for Vice Canada, the Canadian Media Guild would like to hear about your experiences and working conditions.

CMG organizer Karen Wirsig is involved in the Vice Canada unionizing drive that began late last year. She says Vice employees have told her they’re concerned about how freelancers are treated by the company.

“Sometimes they’re paid really late, the rates aren’t great. They may end up being relied upon a lot but still being treated like freelancers,” she says.

Wirsig notes that the contract ratified by newly unionized Gawker employees last week contained clauses related to freelancers. The contract requires Gawker to limit contract work to one year — workers have to be either let go or offered full time work once that year is up — and to pay freelancers the same rates as unionized employees after a year.

Freelance clauses in contracts

Wirsig says these kinds of clauses are possible in other media contracts.

“We could do the same thing in any growing organization that relies on freelancers,” she says.

“We’re organizing at Vice and we’d be interested in talking to freelancers there to see what their experiences are and see what kind of improvements could be made for them.”

Canada already has one media organization that includes freelancers as part of its bargaining unit. That organization is the CBC, where the Canadian Media Guild represents freelancers in addition to full time staff and contract and temporary employees.

“It’s not impossible to include freelancers in a bargaining unit, as we know from the CBC case,” says Wirsig. “It’s possible to have all these people be together in a group and bargain together and look out for each other.”

But whether freelancers are involved in contract negotiations or not, Wirsig says the CMG would aim to bargain some things into a Vice contract that will ensure the fair treatment of freelancers.

What issues do freelancers face at Vice?

The Canadian Media Guild is currently gathering support for the union before filing for a certificate with the Labour Relations Board.

“We’d love to hear from freelancers to find out what other issues they may be facing, because I haven’t talked to a huge number of them yet, I’ve just talked to a couple,” she says.

If you’re interested in sharing your experiences at Vice, please contact Karen Wirsig at All communications will be kept confidential.

And if you’re interested in reading more about the Vice unionization effort, you can check out this page on the CMG’s website.


Posted on March 8, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · · Tagged with: , , , ,

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