‘House of Cards’ and ‘The Wire’ Creators Urge Union Deal at Vox
(Bloomberg) -- Hundreds of TV and film writers, including showrunners of “The Wire” and “House of Cards,” called out Vox Media Tuesday for not completing a contract with editorial staff who unionized more than a year ago.
Staff at Vox’s websites went public with their organizing campaign in November 2017, and the company agreed two months later to recognize the union. After 14 months of negotiations, employees are trying to hike the pressure on management to reach a collective bargaining agreement.
Vox’s union is part of a wave of organizing in digital media, fueled by industry upheaval and buoyed by media brands’ sensitivity to public shaming. In recent years, workers have unionized at outlets including Gizmodo Media Group, the HuffPost, Vice Media, the Guardian, the Daily Beast and the New Yorker.
Last week, hundreds of Vox Media employees participated in an hourlong walkout, according to the union, the Writers Guild of America East. During negotiations Tuesday, WGAE leaders from the film and television industries presented management with a petition from 450 fellow union members declaring their solidarity with Vox staff.
“Particularly as Vox Media expands further into television and film production, we call on the company to agree to a union contract that lives up to its status as a leader in this industry,” the film and TV workers said in their petition. The signers included writers from “The L Word,” “Law & Order: SVU” and “Silence of the Lambs,” as well as “The Wire” creator David Simon and “House of Cards” developer Beau Willimon, WGAE’s current president.
Vox Media didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Outstanding issues in the negotiations include salaries, severance pay, and compensation for writers whose works get adapted for film or television, according to union bargaining committee member Meghan McCarron, a correspondent for the Vox food site Eater. The contract talks, which have been continuing this week, cover several hundred staff at brands such as Vox.com, SB Nation, the Verge, Recode, Curbed and Vox Studios.
Hollywood writers have been waging their own labor battle in recent months. In April, the Writers Guild of America instructed screenwriters to sever ties with the industry’s biggest talent agencies due to a contract dispute.
The union says talent companies have enriched themselves at the expense of their clients. It approved a new code of conduct mandating that agencies stop financing and producing their own shows, and that they stop collecting fees for packaging multiple clients into a project.
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