Visual effects (VFX) crews employed by Marvel Studios have voted to unionize, as announced by IATSE on Monday. “A supermajority of Marvel’s more than 50-worker crew had signed authorization cards indicating they wished to be represented by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE),” a press release reads, courtesy of a story from Variety.
The decision to unionize is a crucial moment, historically speaking, for VFX professionals, since they’ve remained, for quite some time, separate from union bodies. The IATSE represents more than 168,000 individuals working across a spectrum of technical and artistic sectors inside the film and television industry.
“Positions like production designers/art directors, camera operators, sound, editors, hair and makeup artists, costumes/wardrobe, script supervisors, grips, lighting, props and paint, among others, have historically been represented by IATSE,” the release continues. However, those working within “VFX classifications historically have not.”
“For almost half a century, workers in the visual effects industry have been denied the same protections and benefits their coworkers and crewmates have relied upon since the beginning of the Hollywood film industry,” Mark Patch, the VFX organizer for IATSE said in a statement following the announcement. He described the vote as an “historic first step for VFX workers coming together with a collective voice demanding respect for the work we do.”
“Turnaround times don’t apply to us, protected hours don’t apply to us, and pay equity doesn’t apply to us. Visual effects must become a sustainable and safe department for everyone who’s suffered far too long and for all newcomers who need to know they won’t be exploited,” Bella Huffman, an added VFX coordinator, explained.
The international president of IATSE, Matthew D. Loeb, described the vote as “an unprecedented wave of solidarity that’s breaking down old barriers in the industry and proving we’re all in this fight together. That doesn’t happen in a vacuum.”
“Entertainment workers everywhere are sticking up for each other’s rights, that’s what our movement is all about. I congratulate these workers on taking this important step and using their collective voice.”