Efforts at bringing the VFX workforce together in order to forge a union agreement have been happening for decades. From quieter meetings between union representatives and artists up to the rally outside the Oscars and the VFX townhall on Pi Day. After all this time many are left asking: now what? Now that we’ve marched, spoken to the press, changed our Facebook profile picture to green, now what do we do? How do we get a seat at the table, sitting across from our employers, with a unified voice?
The answer is both simple and very much not so: You Organize.
The law is specific about how this process happens. We need your support to help you organize. That support is built from inside by people, such as yourself, helping to educate and build a strong base of employees eager for a voice in the workplace. To be successful, consensus among the majority of your co-workers must be established. We will help you go through that process every step of the way. You can read more detailed information about the steps for unionization on the Organize page.
The process begins with discussions between your trusted friends and co-workers about the benefits of having union representation. Do they know that just about all the other crew who worked on the movie, commercial or tv show you’re creating effects for are represented by a union? Once you have lit that spark among some of your peers, you reach out to us and ask us to meet you during lunch or after work to talk to you or a group you’ve assembled. We would like to hear about what your issues are at your workplace and answer any questions you may have. If you’ve sent in a signed repcard, thank you; these cards allow us to see which companies have hot spots of union interest and then plan outreach accordingly.
VFX artists keep telling us how powerless they feel when they are asked to work weekends or many days/weeks in a row without adequate time-off consideration. We’ve heard the concern from freelancers when they’re staring down their 40th birthday and don’t have adequate retirement savings. And then there are the complaints about health care; how it’s available at some companies, but you’d have to have a six month contract, and strangely enough, you’ve been at the job for a year…on 3 or 4 month contracts that keep getting extended and no healthcare because of that loophole. If you do have healthcare, that employer-provided benefit can keep you tethered to that job, no matter how bad it gets, because you’re afraid of losing coverage. Or perhaps your wages and benefits were vastly reduced without much warning, and you can accept it, or consider yourself unemployed.
Do nothing, and nothing will change.
A union agreement is the best way to start attacking these problems. These agreements can include language that cuts off the option of abusing employees who do not have a voice in the workplace, flaunting labor laws, or changing the rules of the game without your input. Unless some force is exerted to serve as a catalyst, nothing will change.
You, the workforce, have to be that catalyst.