AppleTV Visual Effects Workers File For Election To Unionize With IATSE

LOS ANGELES, CA — A supermajority of in-house Visuals Effects (VFX) workers at Apple Studios have signed authorization cards to unionize with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the union announced Friday. While Apple Studios management was asked to voluntarily recognize the VFX workers’ union earlier in the week, IATSE filed for an official National Labor Relations Board election. The election is expected to take place one to two months following this filing.

The organizing unit consists of 17 dedicated workers across six Apple Studios LLC shows, including BUBBI (Outcome), JIMINY (Lost Bus), FOXTROT (The Last Frontier), GOVERNMENT CHEESE (Bonneville), SURFACE (Legacy S2), and BLACKBIRD. These workers hold critical positions for getting Apple’s content made, including VFX Production Supervisor/Manager, VFX Associate Production Manager, Senior VFX Coordinator, VFX Coordinator, VFX Assistant Coordinator, VFX Production Assistant, VFX Witness Camera Operator, VFX Production Artist (a.k.a. In-House Compositor, Virtual Art Director), VFX On-Set Supervisor, VFX On-Set Production Supervisor/Manager, Lead VFX, Data Wrangler, VFX Data Wrangler, and VFX Jr. Data Wrangler.

Valerie Wicks, AppleTV VFX Coordinator, highlighted that she loves her work, but also views organizing as a necessary paradigm shift in the industry, “I’ve been lucky. I’ve worked with a lot of incredible leaders, most of whom have been kind and stood up for me. Apple is a wonderful place to work, so I participated partly to keep it that way and to make sure people of all job titles had my same experience. But most of all, I participated for the greater goal of unionizing all of VFX, across every studio. That’s the dream, and we are now one step closer! I’m proud of Apple, and proud of us.”

While positions like Production Designers/Art Directors, Camera Operators, Sound, Editors, Hair and Makeup Artists, Costumes / Wardrobe, Script Supervisors, Grips, Lighting, Props, and Paint, among others, have historically been represented by IATSE in motion picture and television, workers in VFX classifications historically have not.

Liam Mazarra, AppleTV VFX Lead Data Wrangler, is proud to be part of the efforts to change that, “Proud to stand with my colleagues  at Apple Studios as we build a more just and promising future for the Visual Effects community. As artists and workers helping to create stories of the twenty-first century, we deserve rights and representation equal to others in our industry. This is the shape of Visual Effects to come. We are stronger together!”

By filing for this election, Apple Studios’ in-house VFX workers join a growing movement that has seen significant victories over the past year, including unionization bids by ‘Avatar’ VFX artistsMarvel / Disney VFX staffers, and DNEG workers in British Columbia and Montreal. The momentum of the VFX Union campaign represents a unified call for a voice within the industry and a rightful place within IATSE for both client and vendor-side VFX professionals.

IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb said, “Ensuring every behind-the-scenes worker’s contributions are recognized and compensated takes courage like that shown by Apple’s VFX Workers. The ongoing industry contraction in the film and television industry is pushing workers to the brink globally. Folks have less to lose, and much to gain from standing together. We are witnessing a powerful moment of solidarity and determination among VFX workers, and IATSE stands ready to support them every step of the way.”

According to IATSE’s 2022 study into the rates and conditions of VFX workers, an overwhelming majority of VFX workers feel that their work is not sustainable in the long term, with key issues being wages, access to industry-standard health and retirement benefits, uncompensated overtime, safety, and training, among others.

As part of the union’s continued efforts to create a more sustainable VFX industry, IATSE has encouraged all VFX workers to participate in the ongoing 2024 VFX Return to Work Survey. This survey is crucial in empowering workers to have a say in their careers and work-life balance and aims to measure the extent and impact of the film/TV industry contraction on VFX professionals.

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The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees or IATSE (full name: International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada), is a labor union representing over 170,000 technicians, artisans and craftspersons in the entertainment industry, including live events, motion picture and television production, broadcast, and trade shows in the United States and Canada.

For more information please contact:
General: comms@iatse.net
Press: press@iatse.net


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