Workers Attempt to Join IATSE

By Chanak Maduranga

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Workers Attempt to Join IATSE
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As it continues to press forward with its campaign to organize visual effects workers, IATSE has made a bid to represent a small group of these professionals who work on Apple television series.

On Friday the union announced that it had submitted a petition to the National Labor Relations Board to represent 17 workers at six Apple Studios LLC shows including Bubbi, Jiminy, Foxtrot, Government Cheese, Surface and Blackbird. The union is seeking to represent roles such as VFX production supervisor/manager, VFX coordinator, VFX production assistant, VFX witness camera operator and VFX on-set supervisor, among other classifications. According to IATSE, a “supermajority” of the proposed bargaining unit has signed union authorization cards.

In a statement, VFX lead data wrangler Liam Mazarra said he was “proud to stand with my colleagues at Apple Studios as we build a more just and promising future for the visual effects community.” Mazarra added, “As artists and workers helping to create stories of the twenty-first century, we deserve rights and representation equal to others in our industry.”

The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Apple for comment.

IATSE’s organizing drive at Apple follows similar efforts at Marvel and Walt Disney Pictures and amongst workers who contribute to the Avatar franchise. Starting in 2022, the union began a renewed attempt to expand into the visual effects community, starting by publishing a survey of wages and working conditions. In September 2023, Marvel visual effects employees voted to join the crew union in an NLRB vote, followed by Walt Disney Pictures workers doing the same in October that year. Workers who collaborate on the Avatar franchise and are employed by a Disney subsidiary followed suit in January of 2024.

According to VFX coordinator Valerie Wicks, one of the motivations to organize Apple Studios shows was to continue increasing the number of unionized workplaces across the business. “Apple is a wonderful place to work, so I participated [in the union drive] partly to keep it that way and to make sure people of all job titles had my same experience,” she said. “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.”

IATSE’s continued efforts are unfolding as many crew members continue to face the consequences of a contraction in the overall business in the aftermath of the buoyant era of Peak TV. Jobs are still thinner on the ground than they once were, and many workers are still attempting to replenish savings lost over the course of the 2023 writers’ and actors’ strikes.

International IATSE president Matthew Loeb, in a statement, framed the ongoing contraction of the entertainment industry as a boon for organizing drives like the one at Apple. “Folks have less to lose, and much to gain from standing together,” Loeb said in a statement. “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.”

Chanak Maduranga

passionate journalist behind 'USA News Now 24', dedicated to delivering timely and accurate updates on US affairs. Committed to journalistic integrity and informing audiences with credible news coverage.

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