Walt Disney’s visual effects workers unanimously voted in favor of unionizing under the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, part of a historic moment for VFX crews feeling left behind in a wave of strikes hitting the entertainment industry this year.
“For so long, we’ve wanted the same protections as everyone else, but there was no hope in sight,” said VFX Senior Coordinator Mack Robinson. “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 VFX crew voted 13-0 in favor of establishing a union, marking the second time VFX workers successfully unionized with IATSE since the field was commercialized nearly fifty years ago. Last month, Marvel Studios’ VFX workers formed the first VFX union in the history of the profession.
“These workers’ collective action against the status quo represents a seismic shift in this critical moment in our industry,” said Matthew D. Loeb, international president of IATSE. “This unanimous vote sends a clear message that the demands of VFX workers for dignity, respect, and fairness must be heard.”
The entertainment industry is evolving, as seen by the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, with the actors still picketing as the union and studios continue talks for a resolution. Visual effects workers have remained without union protections since the profession took off in the 1970s. VFX teams want fair compensation for all hours worked, adequate health care, retirement benefits, and the same rights and protections their unionized coworkers already have under IATSE.
Disney’s VFX workers helped create the films we grew up with, as well as the remakes of classic animations, including the live-action adaptations of The Lion King, Beauty and The Beast, Aladdin, and, just this summer, The Little Mermaid.
“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,” said IATSE VFX Organizer Mark Patch. “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 newly unionized VFX team will begin collective bargaining negotiations with Disney to create a contract addressing wages, hours, working conditions, and other conditions of employment.
Disney and IATSE were not immediately available for comment on when the negotiation process will begin.