Averting a threatened strike, the 40 members of the WGA East employed at The Dodo have voted unanimously to ratify a new two-year contract with Vox Media, parent company of the popular animal content site. All 40 members on Tuesday had signed a pledge to strike if a fair deal hadn’t been reached by today, when their old contract was set to expire.
According to the guild, the new contract includes a major increase in salary minimums for all job titles. The average annual salary for all those covered by the contract is going up $8,000 a year, and the new minimum salary level for the lowest-tiered staff will go up $10,000 to a base pay of $60,000. Upon ratification, every unit member will be in Tier 2 or above, and the minimum salary of any current member will be $66,100. Vox Media also agreed that every member of the bargaining unit is guaranteed an annual pay raise.
“We are proud of the work of our professional staff and our activist members – solidarity and hard work that has resulted in real gains for our members at The Dodo,” said Lowell Peterson, the guild’s executive director.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled with what we’ve achieved in our second contract,” the bargaining committee representing the members said in a statement. “When we began bargaining, our goals were to lift the members of our unit up to a livable, industry-standard wage and to ensure that our acquisition by a bigger parent company would mean better pay, more resources, and higher standards of working and living. We’re proud to say that we’ve won a contract that not only guarantees all of this for our unit, but truly reflects the compassion and humanity that The Dodo has built its legacy on.”
Other highlights of the contract include:
- Forty-hour workweek that includes recuperation time for salaried employees when working unusually long hours, late nights, on a holiday, or on a sixth day in a week;, overtime pay for certain titles, and guaranteed 10 hours of rest time between shifts.
- Health care benefits that include a 10% cap for year-over-year premium increases starting with the 2024 plan year; development of a policy on critical health care that will include abortion access and gender-affirming care; codified WPATH (trans health care) standards, and an agreement that the company will always provide health benefits to partners regardless of gender.
- Increases in leave policies, including 20 weeks of parental leave and a policy that states that management will top up short-term disability payment for at least four weeks so that people are made whole when they need health leave for medical recovery and mental health.
- A minimum of 12 weeks of severance for those who have been at the company for a year or less, and a minimum of 26 weeks of severance for those who have been at the company for over 10 years.
- Guarantee that the unit will continue to have work-from-home flexibility, as well as a $75 per month work-from-home reimbursement, and a $75 per month subsidy to pay for Internet and phone bills.
- Equal pay protections that trigger a company investigation if a worker believes they’re paid 15% below the average for a job at their vertical.
- Commitment that at least 50% of job candidates interviewed will be from groups underrepresented at The Dodo (BIPOC, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities) and guaranteed funding of the bargaining unit’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee of $11,000 per year, with an additional $11,000 per year for initiatives to retain employees from underrepresented groups.
- Elimination of the use of employee nondisclosure agreements in cases of harassment or discrimination.
- $7,000 for the unit each year to go toward professional development classes and conferences.
- At least 3% 401(k) match by the company.
All this, the guild said, brings The Dodo union “in line with the industry standards set by the guild.”