THE BIGGER PICTURE
In a realm where heroes typically fly across screens and dance through storylines, a different kind of heroism is taking shape behind the scenes. The VFX (Visual Effects) teams at Walt Disney Studios are boldly stepping onto a path of change as they officially petition the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for the opportunity to conduct an election to establish a union. This pivotal moment emerges after their comrades at Marvel Studios, those crafters of cinematic marvels, chose to unite under the banner of a union, signaling a collective quest for equitable safeguards and rights.
As if scripting a sequel to the Marvel saga, VFX workers are now exercising their right to unionize in order to lay claim to fair compensation, adequate healthcare, retirement benefits, and a parity of rights and securities akin to their counterparts in the IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees) union.
THE UNVEILING OF A HISTORIC ODYSSEY
Within the enchanting realms of Walt Disney Studios, a historic odyssey is underway—a journey towards unionization that has been set into motion by the formal submission of a request to the NLRB. A resounding chorus of over 80% of the in-house VFX team members at Walt Disney Pictures have etched their commitment to this endeavor, donning the armor of authorization cards to pave the way for the upcoming election.
The curtain has risen on this scene shortly after the artists at Marvel Studios scripted their own narrative of unity, making the decision to unionize just a week prior, on the 21st of August. This grand act is the second of its kind, a testament to the resolve of VFX workers who stand together to demand the privileges and rights that have long been granted to their colleagues. The ballots are scheduled for their debut on the 11th of September, with the grand revelation of the vote count staged for the following day, the 12th.
Mark Patch, the VFX organizer of IATSE, expressed his acclamation for the courageous workers in a statement, acknowledging their audacity in breaking free from silence’s shackles.
“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.”
A GRAND FINALE OF UNITY AND FAIRNESS
Adding to this symphony of transformation is Matthew D. Loeb, the International President of IATSE, who hailed the determination of these VFX workers as groundbreaking. His words resound with the echoes of a monumental shift within the industry, a chorus of voices resolute in their call for change, transcending the boundaries of individual companies to embrace the ideals of respect, dignity, and fairness for all.
THE REEL REASON BEHIND THE UNIONIZATION VOTE
This cinematic unfolding of events begs the question: Why now? The VFX workers have not walked the union path since the early days of special effects, when the original Star Wars movies lit up the silver screen back in the groovy ’70s and ’80s. Yet, today they march united to reshape their fate. Their demand is simple yet significant—a just remuneration for their artistic toil, access to comprehensive healthcare, the promise of a secure retirement, and the very same rights and protections enjoyed by their IATSE peers.
This rallying call of change is underscored by the results of the 2022 VFX Worker Rate and Conditions Survey, orchestrated by IATSE and unveiled in the spring of 2022. Armed with their request filed on a Monday, these workers stand on the precipice of a potential vote that could culminate within a mere two to three weeks. If the collective voice resonates in favor of unionization, the studio’s stage will then be graced by the art of negotiation, as they strive to craft a contract that bestows a new chapter of equity and camaraderie upon this league of creators.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Unionization
What is the significance of Disney VFX workers unionizing?
The unionization of Disney VFX workers marks a pivotal moment of change, mirroring the steps taken by their counterparts at Marvel Studios. It’s a unified effort to demand fair pay, proper healthcare, retirement benefits, and equal rights within the industry.
How did the VFX workers at Disney initiate the unionization process?
The VFX teams at Walt Disney Studios officially submitted a request to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to conduct an election for forming a union. Over 80% of the in-house VFX crew members showed their commitment by signing authorization cards.
Why did this move follow Marvel Studios’ decision to unionize?
Just a week prior, Marvel Studios’ VFX workers chose to unionize, setting a precedent for industry-wide change. Disney VFX workers are echoing this call for equal protections and rights.
What are the key demands of the VFX workers?
The VFX workers are asking for fair pay, comprehensive healthcare, retirement benefits, and the same rights enjoyed by colleagues in the IATSE union. Their demands reflect a desire for better industry conditions.
What is the history of VFX workers and unions?
VFX workers haven’t been part of a union since the early days of special effects in the ’70s and ’80s. Now, driven by growing calls for improvements, they are seeking to change that narrative and secure their rights collectively.
What is the timeline for the unionization process?
The VFX workers’ request has been filed, and the election could occur in as little as two to three weeks. If a majority vote in favor of forming a union, negotiations for a contract would follow, addressing the workers’ demands.
How is this movement impacting the industry as a whole?
The decision of both Disney and Marvel VFX workers to unionize is a groundbreaking moment, symbolizing a collective demand for respect, dignity, and fairness within the industry. It signals a seismic shift toward better working conditions and rights for all.