Visual effects workers at Walt Disney Pictures — the in-house VFX employees including data wranglers, witness camera operators, and other production staff — voted unanimously by a vote of 13-0 to unionize under IATSE in an election held by the National Labor Relations Board.
“These workers’ collective action against the status quo represents a seismic shift in this critical moment in our industry,” said IATSE international president Matthew D. Loeb in a released statement. “This unanimous vote sends a clear message that the demands of VFX workers for dignity, respect, and fairness must be heard.”
Similarly, last month, roughly 50 in-house VFX workers at Marvel Studios voted unanimously to unionize. Both efforts involve pros employed directly by the studio; they currently do not cover the thousands of artists who work on Marvel movies through third-party VFX studios. Both votes also were expected to pass, as many of the workers had already signed union authorization cards affirming their desire to unionize under IATSE.
The next step for the union is to engage in collective bargaining negotiations with the studio to draft a union contract.
With these workers on board, IATSE wishes to form a new, broad national VFX Local that it hopes to launch before the end of the year. Hours, wages and retirement benefits are among the key issues identified by VFX workers that would like to see change.
IATSE organizer Mark Patch says the aim would be to have members of such a local work under the Basic Agreement contract already used by entertainment workers in 13 locals including the International Cinematographers Guild (Local 600), Motion Picture Editors Guild (Local 700) and Art Directors Guild (Local 800). The current Basic Agreement expires in 2024, and negotiations for a new contract are expected to begin next March.
Today’s news comes a week after the WGA reached an agreement with AMPTP, ending its 148-day 2023 strike. SAG-AFTRA, also on strike, is scheduled to return to the bargaining table with AMPTP on Wednesday.