Visual effects artists at Walt Disney Studios this week filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board, signaling a historic change in the industry.
Over 80% of the studio’s VFX workers voted to approve the filing with the NLRB, and the petition was filed Monday. The union election could begin in the next few weeks and will likely pass. If the workers vote to form a union, they will begin bargaining for a contract with Disney.
“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 organizer Mark Patch said in a statement. “It’s about VFX workers across the industry using the tools at our disposal to uplift ourselves and forge a better path forward.”
The filing is the second time in VFX history that workers have moved to unionize. The first was earlier this month when VFX talent at Marvel Studios moved to authorize a union vote. Ballots for the Marvel VFX union are due Sept. 11.
Both filings signal a tonal shift within the VFX community. VFX workers, who create many of the astounding visual effects in Disney’s films, have long bemoaned the intense working conditions and insubstantial pay, but have been afraid to speak out.
As part of wanting to join a union, the Disney workers are demanding the same protection and privileges afforded to those already represented by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, including better wages and improved benefits.
Disney is dealing with two labor battles on top of the filings. The two biggest Hollywood unions, the Writers Guild and the Screen Actors Guild, have been on strike for weeks with no end in sight.