Marvel Studios’ visual effects (VFX) crews have made a groundbreaking move by filing for a unionization election with the National Labor Relations Board. This bold action comes as a result of a supermajority, consisting of over 50 members of Marvel’s VFX crew, who have signed authorization cards expressing their desire to be represented by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). The VFX industry is witnessing an unprecedented wave of solidarity, breaking down old barriers and ushering in a new era of collective empowerment.
The decision of Marvel’s VFX crews to unionize is a significant moment in the film industry as it marks the very first time that VFX professionals have united to demand the same rights and protections as their unionized counterparts. For decades, these workers have been deprived of the essential safeguards and benefits that their colleagues in other production roles have enjoyed since the inception of Hollywood. With this historic step, VFX professionals are firmly asserting their presence and demanding respect for the invaluable work they contribute.
Throughout the film and television industry, various positions such as production designers, camera operators, sound technicians, editors, and many others have had the privilege of being represented by IATSE. Unfortunately, VFX workers have historically been excluded from this representation. This discrepancy in treatment has led to a significant imbalance, denying VFX professionals crucial protections, fair pay, and reasonable working conditions.
Bella Huffman, a VFX coordinator, sheds light on the injustices faced by VFX workers on a daily basis. Turnaround times, which determine how quickly projects can be completed, do not apply to VFX workers. They are not afforded the same protected hours that other industry professionals benefit from, nor do they enjoy pay equity. For far too long, VFX departments have been an environment of exploitation, where workers are overworked and underappreciated. It is essential for these professionals to have their work recognized as a sustainable and safe department that values their contribution and ensures fair treatment for both current and future VFX workers.
The filing of the unionization election comes at a critical juncture in the film and television industry. As the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and SAG-AFTRA continue to strike for better working conditions, VFX professionals have joined the chorus of voices demanding change. The WGA strike, which began on May 2, and the ongoing strike by SAG-AFTRA since July 14, have brought the industry to a standstill. Marvel’s VFX crews, by taking this bold step towards unionization, are adding their weight to the growing movement for fair treatment and respect.
The unionization efforts of Marvel Studios’ VFX crews are reshaping the landscape of the industry. Through their collective action, they are demanding their rightful place alongside their unionized counterparts, advocating for fair treatment, and the recognition of their valuable role in the filmmaking process. The fight for unionization in the VFX industry marks a historic milestone, inspiring all entertainment workers to stand together in solidarity. It is a testament to the power of collective voices fighting for a common cause – the pursuit of a fair and equitable industry for all.