Walt Disney Pictures' in-house visual effects artists vote to unionise

Voting is already underway for the VFX team at Marvel Studios, with results to be announced on September 12

By Priyanca Rajput 30 Aug 2023

Walt Disney Pictures' in-house visual effects artists vote to unionise
Walt Disney Studios Alameda Entrance. Credit: Coolcaesar / CC BY-SA 4.0

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) have announced that 18 in-house visual effects at Walt Disney Pictures have voted to unionise. 

The supermajority vote comes two weeks after VFX artists at Disney's subsidiary company Marvel Studios also submitted a petition to National Labor Relations Board for unionisation.

According to TheWrap, IATSE's lead organizer Mark Patch, is making a concerted effort to unionise VFX artists, who remain among the few below-the-line workers without union representation.

Over the last decade and in recent years, the in-house VFX artists at Walt Disney Pictures have worked on the studio's series of reimagined classics including Beauty and the Beast (2017), The Lion King (2019) and The Little Mermaid (2023).

While the vote will not include the third-party VFX houses that undertake the majority of work on Disney films, IATSE hopes that these early unionisation efforts will galvanise artists at other studios and at third-party companies to demand better wages and working conditions.

“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,” 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,” Patch continued.

Voting is underway for the VFX team at Marvel Studios, with results set to be announced on September 12. Disney’s VFX department is expecting its unionisation vote within the coming month.

“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,” IATSE president Matthew Loeb said. “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.”

VFX artists' vote to unionise comes amid the ongoing labour disputes in Hollywood — chiefly the ongoing dual work strike by the Writers Guild of America and The Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

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