The contract, ratified with the Writers Guild of America, East and spanning three years, comes after negotiations began in April 2018.
“This landmark contract achieves all the goals laid out when Vox Media employees organized with the WGAE, from their intent to enhance workplace culture and increase transparency to improving diversity and ensuring the editorial staff has a voice in decisions affecting work life," Lowell Peterson, executive director of the Writers Guild of America, East, stated.
The agreement is far-reaching, covering compensated time off, raises, a minimum starting salary of $56,000 for overtime-exempt employees and shared compensation for derivative content based on employees’ work.
A 3.5% retroactive raise going back to July 1, 2018, will take effect for everyone in the bargaining unit, except for those hired after that date and others who have received significant raises.
The contract also provides health benefits for part-time employees working more than 20 hours per week. It also allows for 16 weeks of paid parental leave and four weeks of paid leave to care for a sick immediate family member, in addition to 10 days of bereavement leave.
In an effort to promote diversity among its ranks and output, the contract calls for 40% of those in the applicant pool making it beyond the phone interview stage to come from underrepresented backgrounds, with 50% making it for the highest-paid and most senior positions.
Vox Media will also make sure each of its verticals creates and regularly distributes a policy promoting “diverse sourcing and freelancing bylines.”
Additionally, the company “will honor preferred gender pronouns and provide access to gender-neutral bathrooms going forward.”
The contract touched upon protections for employees who create editorial content that is sold to a third party, providing a share in the revenue pool equal to 4% and the elimination of non-competes.
Under the new agreement, terminated employees are entitled to a minimum of 11 weeks severance for layoffs, with an additional week added on per year up to 18 weeks.
The Vox Media Bargaining Committee stated: “We achieved this contract over the past year and a half at the bargaining table, leading up to the largest walkout in digital media history… We stand in solidarity with digital media workers everywhere who are organizing their shops and bargaining contracts to secure a better future for everyone in journalism. Together we bargain, divided we beg.”
The announcement of the agreement comes as BuzzFeed continues to ignore the unionization efforts of its BuzzFeed News employees. Those employees took part in a planned walkout today.