Walt Disney Studios‘ visual effects crews have taken an important step toward unionization by filing for an election to unionize with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
A supermajority (more than 80%) of Walt Disney Pictures’ 18 in-house VFX crew members signed agreement papers indicating their desire to unionize.
@imhectornavarro tweets about the unionization of Walt Disney’s VFX crews while also hinting a labor board election over the coming weeks:
Visual Effects (VFX) crews at Walt Disney Studios are taking a significant step to unionize. Over 80% of the 18 in-house VFX crew members signed authorization cards to signal their desire to unionize, following a similar move by Marvel Studios VFX crews.
IATSE supports this… pic.twitter.com/XBEUsHmd5R
— Hector Navarro (@imhectornavarro) August 28, 2023
This is the second time in history that VFX professionals have banded together to demand the same safeguards and privileges as their colleagues. VFX crews at Marvel Studios decided to unionize earlier this month, effective August 21. Ballots are due on September 11, and the votes will be counted on September 12.
“Today, courageous Visual Effects workers at Walt Disney Pictures overcame the fear and silence that have kept our community from having a voice on the job for decades. With an overwhelming supermajority of these crews demanding an end to ‘the way VFX has always been,’ this is a clear sign that our campaign is not about one studio or corporation. It’s about VFX workers across the industry using the tools at our disposal to uplift ourselves and forge a better path forward,” IATSE VFX organizer Mark Patch remarked in a statement.
“The determination of these VFX workers is not just commendable, it’s groundbreaking. Their collective action against the status quo represents a seismic shift in this critical moment in our industry. The chorus of voices demanding change is unprecedented, and demonstrates our united movement is not about any one company, but about setting a precedent of dignity, respect, and fairness for all,” IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb stated.
The unionizing VFX employees are in charge of developing the visual effects across the studio’s films, which include “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.”
Since the domain was pioneered during the filming of the original “Star Wars” films in the 1970s and 1980s, VFX workers have remained non-union. Unionizing workers are demanding equal pay for all hours worked, decent health care, retirement benefits, and more broadly, the same liberties and privileges as their unionized compatriots who are already represented by IATSE.
These demands reflect the increasingly common pleas for rectifications in the VFX Industry and coincide with the overall tone revealed by IATSE’s 2022 VFX Worker Rate and Conditions Survey, published in March.
With the filing on Monday, a labor board election may start as early as two to three weeks. If a majority of these workers vote in support of unionization in that election, the studio would have to initiate good-faith negotiations for a contract covering these workers collectively.