1. VFX/Game Workers Make Historic Strides
2023 was an unprecedented year for organizing within the gaming/vfx industries. Join us as we look back on some of this year’s biggest developments:
- ‘Avatar’ VFX Artists File For Union Election as Momentum for VFX Union Movement Grows
- VFX Workers, Union Representatives Spotlight Industry Issues in Meeting with Congressional Labor Caucus
- Marvel Studios VFX Workers Unanimously Vote to Unionize with IATSE, Marking Historic First
- Walt Disney Pictures’ VFX Workers Vote Unanimously for Unionization In Labor Board Election
- Workinman Interactive Workers Unanimously Unionize in Historic Labor Board Vote
- IATSE Launches Gameworkers.org, First-Ever Video Game Industry Study
The power of unity and solidarity was on full display in 2023. An incredible team of hundreds of volunteers from IATSE, Teamsters, Motion Picture Television Fund (MPTF), LA Food Bank, and LA County Federation of Labor hosted food drives to assist those impacted by the work stoppages in the film and television industry. Volunteers distributed food, household necessities, personal products, and even thanksgiving meals to thousands of families in need. The events served as a powerful reminder of our collective strength and our unwavering dedication to mutual aid.
Additionally, $4 million was donated by IATSE to the Motion Picture Television Fund to provide emergency financial assistance to kin in need.
IATSE was proud to announce the first ever Member Census in 2023. This vital initiative aimed to gain accurate, anonymous, and aggregated statistics about the union’s membership across the United States and Canada. By inviting every IATSE member to participate, this census empowered the union to better advocate for members’ rights and interests, and ensure future actions reflect the union’s membership.
The Cornell Worker Institute will summarize and present their findings to IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb and the General Executive Board at the board’s Mid-winter meeting in January 2024.
In September, IATSE announced the chartering of a new national Local: The Production Workers Guild Local 111. ‘PWG’ Local 111 became the first-ever IATSE Local Union specifically created to represent freelance production department workers.
For now, this groundbreaking Local Union will encompass a unit of 5,000 television commercial production workers employed by Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) companies, including Production Assistants (PA’s), Assistant Production Supervisors, Production Supervisors, Line Producers, and Bidding Producers. However, the establishment of PWG Local 111 opens the door for future organizing initiatives within production departments, not just in the realm of TV commercials but also throughout the broader entertainment industry.
In July, IATSE announced its Core Principles for the Application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies in the entertainment industry. The move followed the union’s creation of an Commission on Artificial Intelligence in May.
These principles reflected IATSE’s proactive approach to face the challenges and opportunities presented by AI and ML head-on. “Our approach as a union must be comprehensive, focused on research, collaboration, education, political and legislative advocacy, organizing, and collective bargaining,” states the document.
“With AI, the stakes for IATSE members in all crafts is high. There is much work to do, but I am pleased to report the union’s efforts are already well underway,” said IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb.
On June 30, IATSE Political and Legislative Director Tyler McIntosh joined senior Biden-Harris Administration officials and leaders from the broader labor movement for a discussion of the implications of artificial intelligence (AI) for workers, unions, the quality of jobs, and the future of work. Readout of White House Listening Session with Union Leaders on Advancing Responsible Artificial Intelligence Innovation | The White House.
IATSE announced in August that members working under The Broadway League and Buena Vista Theatrical d/b/a/ Disney Theatrical, IATSE Pink Contract overwhelmingly ratified the proposed contract. With a 65.5% turnout, the vote passed with 678 members (70.4%) in favor.
This new agreement heralds a significant moment for the workers covered under the Pink Contract, as this was the first opportunity for these members to vote on the ratification of their agreement. The decision validates their collective voice and highlights a cultural shift within the union towards improved democratic processes with respect to bargaining campaigns.
This agreement features several historic gains. The Health Care plan will stay the same for the length of the contract with no added cost to workers. Both Heads and Assistants would see wage increases to match the street rate for touring shows, with Broadway minimum rates increasing to move towards parity with similar workers in other Locals. Employers would be required to provide hotel accommodations and increase the daily per diem, reducing touring workers’ out-of-pocket expenses.