VFX Organizing

The IATSE vfxunion site has a page  on “How to Organize”. Read it, and then come back here.

1. Getting Started

We’ve been very remiss in not thanking everyone for the great work they’ve done so far at Imageworks. But we all need to be more active in the vfx community as a whole.

The discussion of extending existing film industry union benefits to vfx artists in the US and Canada is now well and truly out in the open. No one is going to get fired. None of us have been. The Sony corporation has not retaliated towards anyone. If they wanted to make life diffcult for union supporters, they could, they haven’t. They said “Sony Pictures respects employees’ right to consider union representation”, and that’s exactly what they’ve done.

2. Education

Read and stay up to date on the latest issues that have direct impact on your job at vfxsoldier.com. No one else is covering these issues, certainly not the mainstream press or even Variety. (8/22/2012 “Fear Envelopes VFX Biz”)

vfxsuccess has published the first  interview with vfxsolider:

Q: How can readers help you get your message out or support your efforts?

A: The number one thing is to stop being apathetic. Engage your industry. This is your career and your life. You should be doing everything you can to make it better. The reason why the problems persist is because we have chosen fear and silence. History is unkind to those who do that.

Scott Squires had this to say in the vfxsolider comments:

First off it doesn’t even seem like the majority of vfx workers are even aware of these things. Among your co-workers how many even read vfxsoldier or the other info out there? Most focus on their work and go home, simply to repeat the same process the next day.

The first task is to realize there is a problem so that requires those interested to get the word out to their co-workers and others. This is something everyone on this board can do on their own.

As SPIUnion notes the IA Union is trying to get a vfxunion going in the US. If you’re a vfx working in the US then seriously get more info on the union and consider signing a rep card. You’ve been handed an opportunity to do something. The union is an existing organization so that gives a huge advantage than to start an entire new thing from scratch.

Sometimes it seems like the story of the Little Red Hen who asked who will help harvest the wheat, who will help …. No one volunteers to do anything until the cake is finished and then they volunteer to eat the cake. It takes many people to put in time and effort to make any of this happen. Many on the side lines ask what’s taking so long. “Why aren’t others fixing this”, they ask.

We all need to ask ourselves:

  • How much longer will we tolerate the problems of working in vfx?
  • How bad do things have to get before we do something? In the last five years have you noticed an improvement in this business?
  • Waiting for someone else to fix it is not a plan. If we do nothing, things will get worse.
  • Do you want to keep going from show to show with no health insurance inbetween?
  • Do you want to be re-classified as an IT worker and lose overtime pay? Maybe you’re already not getting paid for overtime.
  • How about being illegally misclassified as an “independent contractor” on a 1099? Some VFX artists have to pay an “Employer of Record” 4% of their salary just to be sent their paycheck after waiting 90 days.
  • Will the Prime Focus model of demanding deposits from employees be next?
  • How about the directors who blame vfx for the high-costs of films?
  • vfx companies under investigation from the US Department of Justice for illegally colluding to reduce worker salaires.
  • Or the facilities that outright don’t pay artists? And then re-open and do it again?

These are real things, and they aren’t acceptable.

3. Authorization Cards

Had enough? Great, now you’re at the card stage.

Sadly, the labor movement is behind the times technologically when compared to vfx. The printed rep card is the rule of the land.

We contacted Steve Kaplan and  Vanessa Holtgrewe, and we urge anyone working in vfx to do the same. We’ve distributed over 1000 cards so far at Sony. The union will deliver as many rep cards with postage-paid envelopes as you need. Want buttons, pens, flyers? Just ask, we did, and we got them hand delivered to us. They set up several catered meetings at the Culver Hotel for anyone with questions. They’ve gotten us every fact and figure we’ve asked for. They’ve put flyers on cars , and stood in front of multiple LA vfx houses handing out info.

When we hit  “50% + 1” of cards returned (they don’t expire) then we move on to the next steps.

4. The Election Petition

5. Bargaining

6. Membership

Nothing will happen until you sign and mail a Representation Card.

-The artists of SpiUnion
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