Stranger Things Stranger Things

[UDPATED WITH COMMENT FROM IATSE] History was made in the Great White North yesterday, as the British Columbia Labour Relations Board confirmed that workers at DNEG Vancouver have formed a union with IATSE. That makes the Vancouver outfit the first vendor-side vfx shop in Canada to form a union.

The DNEG Vancouver Organizing Committee emailed news of the Labour Board’s decision to studio employees. Cartoon Brew acquired a copy of the letter, which can be found at the bottom of this article.

“This a groundbreaking moment for workers at DNEG Vancouver and vfx workers across Canada,” said John Lewis, IATSE International vice president and director of Canadian affairs. “Vfx workers in Canada have been without union representation for too long in this country, and we are honored to welcome workers from DNEG Vancouver into the IATSE.”

Added IATSE International representative Jiaming Li, “Workers at DNEG realized that they needed to work together to improve their working conditions. It has been an inspiration to work with the employees at DNEG as they worked to form their union.”

The union and the studio will now begin negotiations on a new contract for the studio’s vfx workers. Organizing committees at DNEG Montreal and Toronto are working with IATSE to follow the example set by the Vancouver workers.

We first announced that studio employees were working with IATSE to unionize in early October, and things advanced quickly from there. In British Columbia, 55% of eligible workers need to sign a unionization card before an application to the Labour Board can be filed. After that threshold was met at DNEG Vancouver, the worker’s bargaining unit filed its application to unionize with IATSE, and yesterday, the board returned a favorable decision.

DNEG Vancouver workers are now part of the newly established IATSE Local 402, which covers vfx workers in British Columbia. Cartoon Brew reached out to DNEG Vancouver for comment but did not receive a response.

DNEG Vancouver has provided vfx and animation for recent Hollywood productions, including Dune 2, Oppenheimer, Haunted Mansion, Bullet Train, Uncharted, and season four of Stranger Things.

Here’s the letter sent to DNEG Vancouver employees in full:

Hi everyone,

We are so very excited to tell you all that today the BC Labour Relations Board confirmed that we have formed our union with IATSE at DNEG Vancouver!!!

We wanted to take a second to thank all of you for your support and help along the way. This is a truly historic moment for the Canadian VFX industry as this win results in the first union vendor studio! Speaking of cross Canada, we know that the DNEG Montreal and DNEG Toronto organizing committees are working very hard to follow our footsteps here in Vancouver so we would appreciate it if you spread the word to your friends in those other locations.

Soon we will be in touch with the next steps as we begin the bargaining process. For now, celebrate!

In Solidarity,

The DNEG Vancouver Organizing Committee and IATSE

Pictured at top: Netflix’s Stranger Things season four, a series for which DNEG Vancouver provided vfx services.

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Jamie Lang

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