Disney VFX Workers Are Moving to Unionize, Too

Disney VFX Workers Are Moving to Unionize, Too

Just three weeks after 52 visual effects workers at Marvel Studios announced they had filed a unionization vote with the National Labor Relations Board, 18 more internal VFX employees at Marvel parent company Disney have now also moved to form their own union, indicating a growing sea change in the demands of the historically non-union VFX industry.

Variety reports that a supermajority of the 18 Disney employees—indicating over 80%—have signed authorisations filed to the NLRB, indicating a desire to hold a unionization vote and take the first significant steps towards establishing some of the first unions in the VFX industry at large.

“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,” IATSE VFX organizer Mark Patch said in a statement provided to press. 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.”

The move comes as Hollywood studios—already rocked, as the recalcitrance of their negotiation representatives in the AMPTP continue to operate in a lack of good faith with both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA during their historically unprecedented dual strike action this summer—face a reckoning over the historical lack of worker protections in the VFX industry. As VFX artists power the blockbusters that make these studios titanic, at an increasing cost to the lives of those artists, a desire for the protections provided by unionization efforts (which have not yet really caught on in a meaningful way as the VFX industry has grown from infancy over the last half-century) is higher than ever. In March of 2023, IATSE published a VFX Worker Rate and Conditions Survey for 2022 that painted a grim picture for polled VFX artists. As little as 12% earn health insurance that carries over from job-to-job, and on average, over 70% of polled VFX workers have worked uncompensated overtime.

With today’s filing, the Disney VFX workers’ election could begin within the next month—taking the first steps towards a Disney VFX union that will then enter negotiations with the studio for a group contract. Ballots in the separate petition by Marvel Studios Workers to form a union will be voted on September 12.

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