Entertainment NewsWalt Disney Pictures Visual Effects Staff Take Steps Towards Unionization

Walt Disney Pictures Visual Effects Staff Take Steps Towards Unionization


The visual effects teams at Walt Disney Studios have embarked on a significant journey towards unionization, formally submitting a request to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold an election for union representation.

A substantial supermajority, comprising over 80% of the in-house VFX crew members at Walt Disney Pictures, have shown solidarity by signing authorization cards, indicating their strong desire to be part of a union.

This pivotal move marks the second instance where VFX professionals have united to advocate for equal safeguards and privileges like their peers. In a recent development earlier this month, VFX teams at Marvel Studios decided to unionize, with the process set to commence on August 21. The voting ballots are slated for submission by September 11, and the official vote tally will transpire on September 12.

Mark Patch, an IATSE VFX organizer, conveyed, “Today, the brave Visual Effects workforce at Walt Disney Pictures overcame the inhibitions and reticence that have hindered our community from expressing its concerns in the workplace for an extensive period. The remarkable supermajority of these teams, striving to discontinue the status quo of VFX practices, serves as a resounding testament that our initiative transcends any single studio or corporation. This is a collective effort by VFX professionals across the sector, leveraging our available resources to elevate our standing and pave a more promising trajectory for our field.”

Matthew D. Loeb, the International President of IATSE, added, “The dedication exhibited by these VFX practitioners is not only laudable but also trailblazing. Their united stance against the existing norms marks a revolutionary shift during this crucial juncture in our industry’s history. The chorus of voices demanding transformation is unparalleled, underscoring that our united front is not centered around any particular entity but rather the establishment of a standard characterized by honor, consideration, and equity for all.”

The individuals in the process of unionization have a pivotal role in shaping the VFX present across the studio’s illustrious repertoire, encompassing iconic titles such as “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” and “The Lion King.”

Since the inception of the VFX field during the production of the initial “Star Wars” films in the 1970s and ’80s, VFX staff have remained outside the realm of unionization. As part of their endeavor, these prospective union members are advocating for equitable compensation for their labor, comprehensive healthcare coverage, retirement benefits, and, fundamentally, the same array of rights and protections enjoyed by their unionized colleagues whom IATSE currently represents.

These demands resonate with the growing chorus of calls for enhancements throughout the VFX industry. They are fortified by the insights unveiled in IATSE’s 2022 VFX Worker Rate and Conditions Survey, publicly released in March.

Following the submission on Monday, a labor board election could kick off within two to three weeks. If most workers affirm the decision to unionize during this election, the studio would be obligated to initiate sincere negotiations for a collective agreement encompassing these workers as a cohesive unit.

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