On Monday, IATSE revealed that the visual effects (VFX) crews at Marvel Studios had opted to unionize.
According to Vulture, a press release has exposed that the vast majority of Marvel's employees, totaling over 50 individuals, have decided to become members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), as attested to by their signed authorization cards.
According to a statement made by Mark Patch, VFX organizer for IATSE, workers in the visual effects industry have long been deprived of the same protections and benefits that their counterparts in the Hollywood film industry have had access to for decades. This represents a groundbreaking moment for VFX workers who are now rallying together with a collective voice to demand the acknowledgment and appreciation they deserve for their work.
According to Variety, this is the first time VFX professionals have come together in this manner, as the industry has predominantly been non-union. IATSE represents over 168,000 technicians, artists, and craftsmen in the film and TV industry. However, unlike other positions such as production designers and camera operators, VFX workers have not historically been represented by IATSE.
VFX coordinator Bella Huffman emphasized the need for a sustainable and safe department for all, addressing the issues of turnaround times, protected hours, and pay equity that have long plagued VFX artists. This decision to stand up for our rights aligns with the ongoing union activity in the film industry, with marches on picket lines conducted by writers and actors in the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.
Matthew D. Loeb, the international president of IATSE, emphasized the significance of the vote's timing, highlighting the remarkable display of unity within the entertainment industry. This unity is eradicating the obsolete barriers in the industry and demonstrating that the struggle is collective. By defending each other's rights, entertainment workers worldwide are embodying the essence of our movement. Loeb extends congratulations to these workers for taking a crucial step and exercising their collective voice.
In March, IATSE released a survey that included responses from VFX workers throughout the industry, not limited to Marvel. The survey revealed that 90% of these workers believed they lacked the tools to advocate for their rights or find resolutions for issues like burnout, wage theft, and unsafe working conditions. According to IndieWire, only 12% of VFX employees directly employed by companies like Marvel and supervised by the studio reported having portable healthcare coverage that continues from project to project. Additionally, just 15% of these workers receive retirement benefits.
The work of Marvel's VFX artists has come under scrutiny as of late, following negative reports about their projects for 'Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,' 'Thor: Love and Thunder,' 'She-Hulk: Attorney at Law,' and 'Secret Invasion,' according to Variety.
Concurrently, numerous artist involved with Marvel endeavors made their grievances known, highlighted on the internet through a series of stories. These accounts included regular impositions of lengthy overtime, lack of enough help, and having to send products of inferior value because of the ever-shifting deadlines.
Workers are imploring that the union ballot be conducted as soon as Aug. 21.