Disney VFX Workers File For Unionization

Disney VFX workers have filed for election and unionization with the National Labour Relations Board. Over 80% of the 18 in-house visual effects employees at the company, according to a recent Variety report, have signed authorization cards indicating their desire to unionize. The organization aspires to join IATSE, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, a union that advocates for those who work in the entertainment industry behind the scenes. This is only the second time in VFX industry history that unionization conversations happened, with the first attempt occurring earlier this month. 

Disney’s VFX Workers Vote To Unionize

Disney VFX workers beauty

Early in August, VFX personnel at Marvel Studios also cast unionization ballots, with the results to be announced on September 12, 2023. IATSE VFX organizer Mark Patch praised the action in a statement, calling the employees courageous and stating that it was “a clear sign that our campaign is not about one studio or corporation.” Mark Patch, the IATSE VFX organizer, made a statement,

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.

— Mark Patch

These individuals worked on the visual effects for several recent live-action remakes of classic Disney films, including The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast (pictured), as well as feature films in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, which is the gold standard for cinematic visual effects. In light of the ongoing writer and actor strikes in Hollywood, more employees at major kids’ media companies are moving towards unionization this year. For Disney VFX workers in particular, who have largely operated without unions since the field gained notoriety in the 1970s, this is shaping up to be a transformative time.

An Industry That Doesn’t Get Enough Time To Work

Disney VFX workers Lion King

Since the first Star Wars films in the 1970s and 1980s, Disney VFX workers have continued to work without union representation. Workers who are unionizing are calling for equal rights, adequate health care, retirement benefits, and fair pay for all hours worked as part of the movement. The international president of IATSE, Matthew D. Loeb also mentioned that these Disney VFX workers’ tenacity goes beyond admirable; it’s ground-breaking. At this pivotal time in our industry, their collective action against the status quo represents a seismic shift. The unprecedented outcry for change shows that our united movement is about creating a precedent for respect, dignity, and equality for all, not just one particular company.

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