Maggie McCaw, Union President at Vice Canada

Maggie McCaw is a Toronto-based journalist and union president at Vice Canada—the first digital media company to be unionized in Canada. Here, she tells FLARE how she made it

Katherine Singh

Maggie McCaw in a blue dress shirt, answers a question onstage

Maggie McCaw

How do you describe your job to your family?

As the president of the Vice Canada union, my job is to stand up for the rights of my colleagues and work with my fellow union members to ensure everyone is treated with fairness and respect at work.

What’s the weirdest gig you’ve ever done solely for money?

I worked on a TV show about Bigfoot and spoke to *many* true Bigfoot believers.

What was your BIG break? How did you land it?

Being elected as president of our union. I wish I could say I won a hard-fought election, but I ran unopposed. I was involved in the original organizing efforts at Vice Canada and was a member of the bargaining committee, so I choose to believe I landed the role of president through the hard work and commitment I showed over the previous year as my colleagues and I built our union together.

Name one piece of career advice you always give.

Join a union, get more actively involved in your union, or start a union at your workplace. Collective power at work is incredibly important, especially right now as we see things like pensions, full-time jobs and benefits disappearing. When we fight for our rights together, we are much more successful than if we try to do it all on our own.

What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?

“Work for free just to get a foot in the door.” Working for free is never a good idea, unless you’re volunteering for a cause you really care about. We work really hard to develop our individual skills and abilities, so we shouldn’t give them away for free. Internships, junior positions and work placements should all be paid. Full stop.

When you’re feeling low about your work, what’s the one thing you always do/watch/read/listen to bring yourself back up again?

I watch The West Wing. The show feels a bit dated now, but watching smart people try to do the right thing is inspiring.

What’s the most pressing issue facing women in your industry right now? What would fix it?

There are a lot of challenges facing women in media right now, but a major challenge women (and people of colour and members of the LGBTQ community) face in media is online harassment. Death and rape threats are not uncommon for a lot of female journalists, especially if they cover “feminist” issues. I’m not sure what would fix it for good, but employers need to step up and come up with ways to effectively support employees who are being harassed.

Have you ever disclosed your salary to a colleague in the name of transparency? Why or why not?

Yes, I have. I think it’s incredibly important to share salary information with colleagues, as it’s the only way to be 100% sure we’re all being paid fairly.

Looking to the future, what excites you the most about your career?

I’m really excited to see how Vice Canada and our union continue to grow. Our union is still so new—it’s been less than 18 months since we signed our first collective agreement—and it’s exciting to think about how things will evolve as new projects arise.

What worries you the most about your career?

The media industry is going through a hard time right now. Newspapers and media companies are losing money and trying to keep up with the changing landscape, but there has been a lot of cuts and layoffs in the past few years, and it looks like it’ll continue. I’m worried that more folks will lose their jobs and that the content being created will suffer as a result.

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