Take the 2024 IATSE VFX Return to Work Survey

IATSE is conducting its second annual study on the rates and conditions of VFX. The more of us that participate, the more representative the study will be.

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!

Join the Union Behind Entertainment.

We are more than 150,000 entertainment industry professionals across the United States and Canada, including stagehands, front of house workers, wardrobe attendants, hair and makeup artists, motion picture and television production technicians, broadcast technicians, scenic artists, designers, animators, audiovisual technicians, and more.

We stand together to provide strong representation and win better wages, training, benefits and overall working conditions.


* Submissions to this form are strictly confidential

We've been in the gig economy since 1893.

Our union was built by workers who moved from job to job, facing unpredictable hours, precarious employment and health care, and pay that didn’t reflect their contribution to the industry.

As workers from all corners of the entertainment industry, we are uniquely positioned and have the industry experience to win major gains on hours, continuous health coverage, and other important issues.


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?


✔ 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?


✔ 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?


✔ Required, transparent minimum base salaries

✔ Negotiated pay raises

Were you laid off with no “relief pay”?


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

Concerned about harassment and discrimination in the workplace?


✔ 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?


✔ 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?


✔ 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.


✔ 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.

Some Rights and Protections IATSE has won on:

How to form a union:

NOTE: This page focuses on how to unionize in the United States. Click here to visit our Canadian website.

Contact us for more information (see below). 

1. Talk to your coworkers

Do you share common concerns about your jobs? Is your employer unwilling to discuss or rectify your concerns? If so, a union may help.

2. Contact an Organizer

A union organizer can help strategize and educate you and your coworkers about the process. Click here to reach out to one.

3. Build Support

In most private sector workplaces, U.S. federal labor law guarantees employees the right to talk to your coworkers about unionizing and other workplace issues, such as pay.

4. Vote!

When a majority of coworkers support joining together, workers typically sign confidential authorization cards to indicate their support. Your employer may voluntarily recognize the union through a "card check" by a neutral third party. If your boss does not agree to a card check or voluntarily recognize the union, we will file a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to request a secret ballot union election.


This is a very brief overview. Contact us 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 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.