Visual effects workers at Walt Disney Pictures have unanimously voted to join the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) in a unanimous decision during an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
This unanimous 13-0 vote closely follows a similar move by VFX workers at Marvel Studios to join IATSE and coincides with the ongoing strikes by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). Both of these guilds are actively pursuing equitable contracts with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
Mack Robinson, a senior coordinator in the VFX department, expressed his satisfaction with the outcome, stating, “For so long, we’ve yearned for the same protections as others, but the prospect seemed bleak. The victory in this election was a hard-fought battle, and I’m proud to declare that every VFX worker who aspires to a brighter and more sustainable future played a role in achieving it.” Mark Patch, IATSE VFX Organizer, added, “Today’s unanimous triumph demonstrates that VFX workers everywhere now have a clear path to influencing their working conditions and overall quality of life. While we continue to work towards securing an excellent contract, our goal is to align every studio and vendor with the union standards that benefit all VFX workers.”
The 18 crew members employed directly by Walt Disney Studios, who were eligible to vote, are advocating for fair compensation for all their work hours, as well as comprehensive healthcare and retirement benefits. The VFX workers, responsible for creating special effects across Disney’s extensive film catalog, including titles like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King, are also seeking the same rights and protections already enjoyed by their unionized colleagues who are represented by IATSE.
Unlike various other film crews, VFX workers have remained outside the realm of unionization until now. This move towards unionization aligns with the broader industry-wide call for improvements and is supported by the sentiments uncovered in IATSE’s 2022 VFX Worker Rate and Conditions Survey, which was published in March of the same year.
With the overwhelming support of the workforce behind this vote, the union’s next course of action is to commence collective bargaining negotiations with Disney executives to craft a contract that addresses the unique needs and concerns of the workers. Specific negotiation dates have yet to be determined.