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WHO WE ARE

We are VFX workers joining with our entertainment colleagues to form VFX-IATSE: the union for production and facility-based VFX workers. 

For over 125 years, the IATSE has worked with the largest names in the entertainment industry including Sony, Disney, and Warner Media to hold them accountable for fair treatment of their workers.  

VFX is integral to almost every film and television production made today. Now it’s our turn to gain the rights and protections almost every other entertainment worker has had for decades!

WHY UNIONIZE?

Script supervisors of IATSE Local 871 on the set of Star Wars

The IATSE was built by freelancers in the entertainment industry who faced long, unpredictable hours, precarious employment and health care, and pay that didn’t reflect their contribution to the industry.  Over the years the IATSE has brought workers together from all corners of the industry to fight and win:

  • Portable benefits including health care, pension/annuity, and training funds that are consistent from employer to employer
  • Fair pay (including overtime and meal penalties) and royalties to compensate workers contribution to the art that they help produce
  • Advocating for and enforcing fair standards and protections for workers that can be applied throughout the industry

Only a union has the legal power to negotiate on equal footing with employers and the ability to codify the benefits won in a binding contract. 

IATSE has the industry experience to win major gains on hours, continuous health coverage and other important issues.  Following are some examples of VFX industry issues, and how the IATSE has been able to address them in film, tv, and theater.

Some Rights and Protections IATSE has won on:

Moving from health care plan to health care plan? Having to buy health care yourself or lacking coverage?

IATSE HAS WON:

✔ Industry-wide portable benefits plans (health, pension/annuity, training)

✔ Health care moves with you from employer to employer, continuous coverage

Working more than 8 hrs/day, 40 hrs/wk with no overtime? Working through your breaks?

IATSE HAS WON:

✔ Fair Overtime Pay

✔ A defined number of hours off before you’re expected back at work

✔ Paid ride home or a hotel room to ensure your safety

✔ Meal penalties

Lack of transparency in rates for your job title? Hard to negotiate an increase in your rate?

IATSE HAS WON:

✔ Required, transparent minimum base salaries

✔ Negotiated pay raises

Were you laid off with no “relief pay”?

IATSE HAS WON:

✔ Negotiated 2-8 weeks of “relief pay” for workers whose work evaporated because of the pandemic

Concerned about harassment and discrimination in the workplace?

IATSE HAS WON:

✔ Provided representation and advocacy in discrimination cases

✔ Negotiated stronger protections for LGBTQ folks beyond what local and federal law requires

✔ Won pay parity for historically non-male job classifications

Crediting policies confusing, unfair, or non-existent? The typical NDA hinders your career progress?

IATSE HAS WON:

✔ Labor management workgroups that can address important issues like crediting policies and NDAs. 

Concerned about health & safety protocols as productions resume in the COVID-19 world?

IATSE HAS WON:

✔ Improved safety standards and enforcement—currently working on “safe return to work” standards with epidemiologists to protect workers returning to productions during COVID-19

Anything that is a term or condition of employment—that people in your studio want to address—is fair game for bargaining.

IATSE HAS WON:

✔ Advocating for new work-from-home policies & support

✔ Working on diversity in the hiring pipeline

✔ Creation of an escrow account for at-risk employers to ensure their employees’ wages & benefits are paid.

FORMING A UNION

This is a very brief overview. Contact Tanya in the US or Jeremy in Canada for more information (see below). 

Forming a Union

A union is a group of workers getting together to improve working conditions in their workplace and industry.  Under US labor law, once a majority of employees in a workplace demonstrate they want a union, either by signing cards saying they want a union or voting for a union, a union is formed at their workplace.  Canadian labor law is similar, though in some provinces, workers don’t need to go through a second demonstration of support, the way they often do in the US.

After Forming a Union—Negotiations

After forming a union VFX workers:

  • Democratically elect a bargaining committee from their co-workers to negotiate with the employer
  • Survey everyone in the workplace input on what kind of things they’d like to see improved and how
  • Vote to ratify the contract

The elected bargaining committee, helped by experienced IATSE staff, works to negotiate to achieve the best result that they can. When they feel they have good results, they present the tentative contract to the members at the workplace to vote on. Once members at that workplace vote to ratify their contract, it goes into effect, codifying the wages, benefits, and other working conditions.  It is only after the contract is ratified that membership dues would start. 

Creating a Local Union

Generally around this same time, the new members also join or create a local union under the umbrella of the IATSE.  Within the IATSE, a local union is broader than just a workplace, and is geared to bringing various workplaces together to advocate for improvements across an industry.  For example, The Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839 represents animation artists, writers and technicians and International Cinematographers Guild, IATSE L600 represents camera professionals and publicists in film and tv.  Production VFX workers in Montreal and Toronto are already represented by IATSE Local 667 and in Vancouver by IATSE Local 891.

Freelancers

Freelancers employed directly by a studio would be eligible to participate in forming a union and negotiating a contract the same as any other employee.  For freelancers or contractors in other employment relationships, please contact us below to give us more details about your situation. 

CONTACT AN ORGANIZER

* Submissions to this form are strictly confidential