VFX crews at Walt Disney Studios have filed to unionize with the National Labor Relations Board in a historic gain for the visual effects labor movement. The news comes after revelations that VFX professionals are summarily underpaid and overworked for their efforts. They’re now demanding protections from their exploitative working conditions. Workers at Disney have the backing of the VFX Union, or VFX-IATSE, the union for production and facility-based VFX workers. A supermajority (more than 80 percent) of the 18 in-house teams at Disney signed authorization cards, marking the second time in history that VFX workers have signaled their intention to unionize. Marvel VFX professionals joined together earlier this month and are currently holding union elections, slated for August 21 through September 11.
“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,” VFX-IATSE organizer Mark Patch said in a statement. “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.” Disney VFX workers’ own union elections could begin as soon as three or four weeks from now, per Variety, and the studio would have to come to the table if workers fully authorize the union. They should negotiate a bonus for every fish they made dance in The Little Mermaid.