Overworked Disney Employees Move to Unionize

in Disney, Movies & TV

Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger looking at Disney Brand Image with Castle and Logo

Credit: Inside the Magic

In the midst of multiple strikes and accusations of overworking their employees, the Walt Disney Company is faced with yet another group of people under their banner unionizing.

Exterior of The Walt Disney Company
Credit: Disney

Despite reports of decreased crowds and increased wait times, Disney Parks have been thriving. Whether you prefer to go to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort, the Walt Disney Company has been thriving. However, the same cannot be said for the company on the film side of things.

The Walt Disney Company has released flop after flop, ranging from standard Marvel staples to classic animated fare to live-action remakes. While many critics will point to the drop in quality of the films or Disney “going woke,” many others believe it’s due to the company’s mistreatment of its employees, often overworking and forcing them to work past regular business hours for insufficient pay.

One group this has been particularly egregious toward are the visual effects (VFX) artists who are responsible for bringing multiple live-action Disney films to life, including The Lion King (2019), The Little Mermaid (2023), and Aladdin (2019). And it looks like the workers have had enough.

Walt Disney Pictures VFX Artists Move Toward Unionizing

Mufasa and Simba in 'The Lion King' standing on a cliff
Credit: Disney

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In a report from Variety, VFX crews at the Walt Disney Company have begun the steps toward forming a union by earning a supermajority of votes (over 80%) from the 18 in-house VFX crew members. This is a historical step for VFX artists everywhere since this would only be the second VFX union ever to form, following the union formed by crew members at Marvel Studios.

IATSE VFX organizer Mark Patch said in a statement, “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.” He continued, “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.”

will smith genie pointing at aladdin
Credit: Disney

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The international president of IATSE, Matthew D. Loeb, shared the sentiment, saying, “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. 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.”

Voting has already begun to finalize the unionization, with ballots due on September 11. Votes will be counted the following day.

This Spells Trouble for the House of Mouse

Bob Iger wearing a suit and tie
Credit: Disney

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The Walt Disney Company is already in dire straits, with films like Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023) and Haunted Mansion (2023) underperforming at the box office. On top of this, the success of future productions from Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars are in jeopardy because of the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. And this is without mentioning the striking cast members at Disneyland Paris. Another union is the last thing Bob Iger and Disney need.

That being said, this is precisely what the employees need. For too long, film crew members have been pushed to overextend their well-being and work extra hours because it is “best for the movie.” This is especially true for VFX artists, who are often forced to crunch to finish things on time. Hopefully, these workers will be successful, and we’ll see a new union on September 12.

Do you think VFX artists are being overworked? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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