Wage Theft Lawsuit Filed Against VFX Studios

Pando Daily is reporting a development to the tech industry wage fixing scandal. A new class action lawsuit on behalf of VFX workers has been filed in court. The defendants include Walt Disney Animation, Dreamworks Animation, Sony Pictures, Digital Domain, ImageMovers Digital (Disney’s old VFX studio) LucasFilm and Pixar.

The lawsuit doesn’t include the ‘salaried’ employees of LucasFilm and Pixar, that was settled already (although I believe that settlement is being contested), but most VFX workers were temporary and not ‘salaried’. The more testimony that comes out from Ed Catmull, the worse he sounds:

CATMULL: To be very clear, we did not — and I — we’ve been very clear about internally, we don’t have contracts, whereas most of the studios had contracts.

Q: I’m sorry, what does that mean? Don’t have contracts?

CATMULL: Well, most of the studios had contracts between the studio and the employees. Employment contracts. And I believe they were bad things.

You can read the court document here, Pando Daily has it embed in their page. I would highly recommend that you read it, it’s filled with compelling information.

It does suck when one of your childhood heroes indirectly screws you out of money. From the article:

George Lucas explained under oath that the purpose of the non-solicitation agreement was to suppress wages and keep the visual effects industry out of “a normal industrial competitive situation.”

Ugh.

While I’m dismayed that this happened at all, I’m very pleased that it’s come to light. I hope the lawsuit is successful, and the artists will be compensated. Something to keep in mind is that even if you didn’t work for any of those companies, we are all affected by this. The companies that are being sued are some of the biggest names in our industry, they set the standard for pay. If those companies set the pay scale artificially low, that trickles down throughout the industry to you and me.

The LA Times reported on this as well, with comments from Disney.