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Help Laid-Off VICE Workers Screwed By Bankruptcy

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UPDATE 8/17/23: We are reopening this GoFundMe because we still have dozens of colleagues who have not received their severance. It has been almost three months since most of our post-petition colleagues—people who were officially let go after VICE declared bankruptcy on May 15—stopped getting paychecks. They have still not received a single cent of the severance they’re contractually owed. After three months of waiting, many of them are struggling with unpaid bills, medical expenses, rent checks, and other basic expenses. They’ve canceled trips to see loved ones, had partners drop out of school, struggled to pay for food, and are selling off their possessions.

When we launched this GoFundMe back in June, we said, “In considering whether to donate to this fund, we ask that, like we in the VICE Union have had to do for years, you separate the mismanagement and excesses of the company’s leadership from the real, urgent needs of the people who actually made the news articles, documentaries, podcasts, and TV shows you enjoyed. These are the people who made VICE.”

That has never been more true. So we’re again asking for your help.


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On April 27, VICE laid off more than 100 employees, including nearly 70 VICE Union members belonging to the Writers Guild of America, East and the Motion Picture Editors Guild Local 700. Since then, four paycheck periods have gone by, and many haven’t received a single dollar in the severance they were promised. For some of our former colleagues, this has been a massive financial stressor as they struggle to make ends meet and pay rent. So we’re trying to raise $50,000 in 10 days to create an emergency hardship fund. We need your help.

Under the contract that VICE Union fought for and that the company agreed to in the fall of 2021, union members who get laid off are entitled to severance payments during usual payroll periods following their separation from the company.

But VICE’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing on May 15th has complicated this otherwise straightforward contractual obligation.

When the layoffs happened, people were assigned different end dates depending on whether they had projects to complete.

For the employees who stopped working before May 15, they are considered “pre-petition debtors” under bankruptcy law and their severances are subject to a legal cap of $15,150 (which includes healthcare expenses, which come to about $600 per month), whenever it is eventually paid, which in some cases is less than what they’re contractually owed.

For employees who stopped working after May 15, they are considered “post-petition,” which classifies them as administrative expenses. Unfortunately, their severance was not approved by the court at the June 13 hearing, meaning they have to wait at least until the next hearing on July 19. In the meantime, they will not receive any money.

As a result, our laid-off colleagues have not been paid any of the severance they are owed. We’re asking for your donation to help them pay their bills at a time when inflation continues to surge and the media industry faces mass hiring freezes. All funds received will go towards cost of living expenses like rent and utilities as well as to critical expenses like medical bills and COBRA coverage.

We have three tiers of fundraising goals:

  • Tier 1, $10,000: Provide emergency hardship funds to the members with the most urgent needs and families to support
  • Tier 2, $25,000: Tier 1 plus ease financial pressure on members who may experience financial hardship in the coming weeks
  • Tier 3, $50,000+: Tiers 1 and 2 plus make up for some of the severance pre-petition folks won’t get because they are subject to the $15,150 cap due to the bankruptcy.

Whether or not you’re not able to contribute financially, please share this fundraiser with others. That’s also a huge help.

In considering whether to donate to this fund, we ask that, like we in the VICE Union have had to do for years, you separate the mismanagement and excesses of the company’s leadership from the real, urgent needs of the people who actually made the news articles, documentaries, podcasts, and TV shows you enjoyed. These are the people who made VICE. These are the people whose labor enriched the executives who ran the company into the ground. And these are the people who now need your support.

Update 6/20/23: We hit the $10,000 goal in just four hours! Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who donated! The money will make a huge difference to our members.

For those who haven't yet donated, our next goal is $25,000, which will help ease the financial pressure many of our members are expecting in the coming weeks as severance continues to be delayed. Any help is greatly appreciated!

Update 6/22/23: We hit $25,000! We’re blown away by your generosity and have teamed up with the editors union at VICE, the Motion Picture Editors Guild Local 700, to help even more laid-off folks who are struggling due to the company’s bankruptcy.

Update 6/30/23: Thanks to you all, we were able to distribute our first wave of emergency funds to laid-off workers—just in time for rent! VICE Union will close donations on July 1 and continue to work with MPEG Local 700 to get our total fundraiser money to folks in need.

Sara David, VP of Online Media at the Writers Guild of America, East and former VICE Union member, will be withdrawing the donations from GoFundMe and delivering to the impacted workers outside of GoFundMe via check or bank transfer.

Donations 

  • Anonymous
    • $20 
    • 8 mos
  • Anonymous
    • $25 
    • 9 mos
  • John Montoya
    • $300 
    • 9 mos
  • Justin MacNeil
    • $20 
    • 9 mos
  • Anonymous
    • $50 
    • 9 mos

Organizer

Sara David
Organizer
Brooklyn, NY

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