Nimona Nimona

Entertainment union IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees) is working with DNEG employees in Canada to help unionize the company’s visual effects workforce, as well as workers at sister enterprises Redefine and DNEG Animation.

There are several steps that workers must go through before unionizing with IATSE, and right now, the union is asking DNEG employees to fill out IATSE VFX Union Support Cards. According to the organization, interest is so high that IATSE has set up two new locals: Local 402 in British Columbia and Local 401 for all other Canadian territories.

Why is IATSE working to organize DNEG workers? In a website published by organizers, they argue that if DNEG employees can engage with management with a collective voice, their bargaining position becomes much stronger. The page explains:

In a company as large as DNEG it is hard to make yourself heard. It is easy to ignore an individual raising grievances regarding the pay reductions due to the strikes, forgoing performance raises despite high inflation, or long periods of overtime.

Why now? According to the union, efforts to unionize vfx and animation workers across the industry have been in the works for some time, but recent events in the vfx industry specifically have created a greater sense of urgency. DNEG’s hugely unpopular pay cuts and loan program have made employees especially unhappy with the current state of affairs at the company. The website explains:

Sometimes these efforts are the cumulation of years and years of careful planning. And sometimes, there’s a flashpoint that gets everyone talking. These moments build solidarity and spark conversations. We have the opportunity to make the most of one of these moments today.

What will it take to unionize? Each province has its own standards that must be met for a group of workers to unionize. In British Columbia, 55% of eligible workers must request and sign a card. In Quebec, the number is 50%. And in Ontario, only 40% of the workers must sign cards.

Which DNEG employees can join the union? Eligible employees include:

  • Artists, including dept. leads and supervisors
  • Production, including coordinators and producers
  • Cg/dfx/vfx supervisors
  • Production technology
  • Workers on temporary leave
  • Part-time workers

According to the website, only employees who have the authority to hire or fire others aren’t eligible.

What’s next? Once enough cards at a location have been submitted, the union becomes certified, and the location becomes fully unionized. At that point, all employees – even those who didn’t submit cards – become part of the union. Once the union becomes certified, workers and IATSE will meet with DNEG to negotiate a collective agreement. For specific regional details, check out the FAQ.

Pictured at top: Nimona produced by DNEG Animation.

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Jamie Lang

Jamie Lang is the Editor-in-Chief of Cartoon Brew.