If ever there was a moment in history where it felt inevitable that vfx workers would unionize, it’s this summer when Hollywood labor has risen up against their corporate overlords, and multiple strikes have shut down production across the industry.
And so it has finally happened: a group of Hollywood vfx workers is demanding recognition from The Walt Disney Company-owned Marvel Studios. Here’s everything we know at the moment:
- A group of 52 employees at Marvel Studios are attempting to unionize. According to Vulture, which first reported the story, these on-set vfx specialists include data wranglers, production managers, witness camera operators, and assistants who are working on MCU series such as Loki and Daredevil: Born Again.
- A supermajority of this group has signed authorization cards demanding that Disney recognize the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) as their bargaining representative. IATSE represents over 168,000 workers in the North American entertainment industry and it is also the parent organization of The Animation Guild, Local 839, the largest animation union in the world.
- The group filed today with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) asking for a unionization vote to be held as early as this month.
- Statement from IATSE’s vfx organizer Mark Patch: “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. This is a historic first step for VFX workers coming together with a collective voice demanding respect for what we do.”
- Statement from Marvel vfx coordinator Isabella Huffman: “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.”
- Marvel Studios has been in the crosshairs of vfx activists for the past year, with workers at vendor studios claiming that the company sets unrealistic deadlines and demands unnecessary changes, among other abusive practices. Marvel fired its vfx chief Victoria Alonso last March, though it said the reasons for doing so were unrelated to the bad press Marvel had received for its treatment of vfx workers.