Walt Disney Pictures Walt Disney Pictures

Vfx workers at Walt Disney Pictures have filed for a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election in a step towards unionizing with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).

Disney refused voluntary recognition, making the NLRB vote necessary.

The group of 18 in-house workers is the second at a Disney company to push towards unionizing with IATSE. A unit of 52 employees at Marvel Studios asked the company to recognize IATSE as their bargaining representative earlier this month.

Here’s are the details of yesterday’s announcement:

  • The proposed bargaining group includes 18 in-house vfx workers, including data wranglers, witness camera operators, and production staff. It’s worth clarifying that Walt Disney Pictures is a production company, not a vfx studio. That means these are not the artists and technicians creating the visual effects. Disney contracts thousands of workers at dozens of studios worldwide to produce visual effects for its films, and those artists will not be a part of this unionization effort.
  • Now that a petition has been filed with the NLRB, an election could occur in the next two to three weeks. If a majority of the group votes in favor of unionizing, the studio would be called upon to engage in good-faith negotiations to settle on a union contract.
  • According to IATSE, the workers are looking for fair compensation for all hours worked, adequate health care, retirement benefits, and more generally, the same rights and protections afforded to their unionized coworkers who are already represented by IATSE.
  • In a statement, IATSE organizer Mark Patch said: “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.”
  • IATSE international president Matthew D. Loeb added: “The determination of these vfx workers is not just commendable, it’s groundbreaking. Their collective action against the status quo represents a seismic shift in this critical moment in our industry. The chorus of voices demanding change is unprecedented and demonstrates our united movement is not about any one company but about setting a precedent of dignity, respect, and fairness for all.”

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