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DNEG Vancouver Has Filed for Unionization!

This is a message on behalf of your friends and coworkers at DNEG Vancouver:

Hi everyone,

We did it! Today we filed our application for certification with the BC Labour Board to form our union at DNEG! We wanted to take a second to thank all of you that signed a card, came to a lunch Q&A and asked great questions, and ultimately believed that the best way for us to improve our working conditions is by working together!

Now that the certification is in, we wanted to provide you with some important updates:

Why are we forming a union at DNEG?

By forming a union, we as workers will get the chance to collectively voice our concerns and requests. Because we are stronger when we stand together, we can achieve things that are impossible when we are on our own. Some of the things we want to achieve include:

  • More transparency and consistency in the decisions that impact our daily lives
  • Improvements to current working conditions (i.e. salary, vacation)
  • Enhanced RRSP and health benefits
  • Sustainability in the Canadian VFX industry as a whole
  • Access to legal counsel
  • Protections from sudden and unjust layoffs
  • Strong representation and solidarity across the Canadian VFX industry

Will there be a vote?

We are confident that we have the support required to automatically certify our union. However, the Labour Board may still order a vote. Whether or not this happens will depend largely on DNEG’s response to our application, so we can’t be sure at this stage.

If there is a vote, every eligible worker at DNEG will receive an email with instructions on how to participate. The vote is conducted online by a third party called Simply Voting and is completely confidential. Your employer will never see How you voted.

If there is a vote it will likely be next week. We’ll follow up with more information once we know what happens next.

Will the Labour Board contact me about my card?

The Labour Board may conduct a “spot check” to confirm that you signed a card. Someone from the Labour Board may call or email you to ask you if you signed a card and if your name is correct. This communication is completely private between you and the Labour Board. Not responding will indicate that you have in fact signed a card, so you are able to ignore the communication if you prefer.

What will DNEG do next?

DNEG will only have a few days to act between now and our Labour Board hearing, which will likely be early next week. DNEG is required to share the notice of certification with everyone so you may see posters around the studio or an email indicating that the application has been submitted.

We can expect some of the following things from DNEG because all employers have limited things that they can do or say that will not impede on our constitutional right to form a union. The following could be sent in an email, or it could be shared in a companywide town hall. Things such as:

  • Promotions will be based on seniority

    Promotions will not be based on seniority because seniority has not been set up in this union, Local 402. If seniority were to be set up in the future it would be democratically voted on, as with all decisions, by the workers in Local 402 the VFX union. Promotions will continue to happen based off of skill, experience, and the factors that are currently being used.

  • Salaries will be bracketed

    A union brings a wage minimums chart, not a wage cap. The wage minimums chart is designed to protect the workers from being lowballed, from juniors being taken advantage of because they are just starting out, and are implemented to raise the floor so that little by little we’re able to achieve a sustainable wage to help the longevity of our VFX careers.

  • Workers will not be able to negotiate their own contracts anymore

    Workers will continue to be able to negotiate their contracts as the union collective agreement only provides a baseline of benefits and protections for workers that are above the regular ESA standards. Anything above these benefits will continue to be negotiated as is right now, based off skill and experience.

  • Jobs will go to countries with cheaper labour once DNEG unionizes

    We have seen that this is simply an unfounded statement as many industries in Canada and in BC are unionized including the on-set VFX workers in Local 891. They have been unionized for decades and work has continued to flow. Titmouse Vancouver, part of the Canadian Animation Guild Local 938 unionizing in 2020, has been one of the only studios in the animation industry of BC continuously hiring despite the extremely high precarity people are facing lately. Once a workplace unionizes, the labour laws in Canada provide a “statutory freeze period” that protects workers from being retaliated against; including being fired for their union support.

This is an exciting time for all of us at DNEG and the VFX community across Canada and North America. So again, thank you all for your support. As soon as we have more details, we will share them with you.

If you have any questions, please, don’t hesitate to reach out.

In solidarity,

The DNEG Vancouver Organizing Committee