Walt Disney Pictures’ in-house VFX workers voted unanimously to unionize in a labor board election this week. The tally was 13-0. They join the visual effects artists at Marvel Studios as only the second dedicated VFX unit to unionize with IATSE ever.
Mack Robinson, a VFX senior coordinator, remarked on the historic nature of the vote, saying, “For so long we’ve wanted the same protections as everyone else, but there was no hope in sight. Winning this election was a long fight, but I’m proud to say it’s been won by each and every VFX worker wanting a brighter, sustainable future.”
The in-house VFX artists at Walt Disney Pictures are responsible for spectacle-driven live-action films like “The Little Mermaid,” “Haunted Mansion” and the upcoming “Snow White” starring Rachel Zegler.
IATSE VFX organizer Mark Patch added, “Today’s unanimous victory shows that VFX workers everywhere have a clear path to winning a meaningful say about their working conditions and quality of life. We’ll be continuing our work to win a great contract, but we need to bring every studio and vendor in line to bring those union standards to all VFX workers.”
The unionizing workers are demanding fair compensation for all hours worked, adequate health care, retirement benefits and more generally, the same rights and protections afforded to their unionized coworkers who are already represented by IATSE. IATSE International president Matthew D. Loeb said, “These workers’ collective action against the status quo represents a seismic shift in this critical moment in our industry. This unanimous vote sends a clear message that the demands of VFX workers for dignity, respect and fairness must be heard.”
Following the outcome of the NLRB election in favor of unionizing, the next step for the union is to engage in collective bargaining negotiations with the employer to draft a contract addressing the needs of the represented workers.
The move comes in the wake of what many called “Hot Labor Summer” as the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA both went on strike, bringing Hollywood to a standstill. The WGA finally reached a historic deal with the studios last week, and talks between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP restarted this week with discussions to continue on Wednesday.