Visual effects (VFX) artists who help bring Marvel movies to life will now have the support of a union. On September 13, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) shared that Marvel VFX artists voted to join their union.

This decision came after most of Marvel’s VFX team showed interest in joining the union on August 7. Since Marvel didn’t initially support this move, a formal vote was needed. This is a big deal because it’s the first time VFX artists in Hollywood have ever been represented by a union.

To join the union, more than half of Marvel’s VFX team had to vote in favor. The final vote was a unanimous 32-0 from 41 potential voters, with seven votes being questioned.

“Today, VFX workers at Marvel Studios spoke with a unanimous, collective voice, demanding fair pay for the hours they work, healthcare, a safe and sustainable working environment, and respect for the work they do,” Mark Patch, VFX Organizer for IATSE, said. “There could be no stronger statement highlighting the overwhelming need for us to continue our work and bring union protections and standards to all VFX workers across the industry. And there could be no stronger example of the courage and solidarity of these workers than each and every one of them declaring ‘union YES!’”

“Today’s count demonstrates the unprecedented demand for unionization across new sectors of the entertainment industry is very real,” IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb said. “To these VFX workers, I congratulate you on your historic victory. Your bravery, determination, and unity are a beacon for workers not just in VFX, not just in entertainment, but workers in every industry across this country and beyond. You will enter negotiations with Marvel and Disney with the full backing and support of our 170,000 strong alliance. Your fight is our fight.”

Up next, the union will discuss terms with Marvel to create their first official agreement. As of now, no meeting dates are set.

Mark Patch, a representative for IATSE, expressed how this move shows the VFX workers’ desire for fair treatment, proper pay, and respect for their hard work. IATSE’s President, Matthew D. Loeb, praised the VFX workers for their courage and unity.

If the vote hadn’t gone through, the VFX team would’ve had to wait a year before trying again. The voting process took place by mail and the results were shared over a Zoom call.

Sarah Kazuko Chow, VFX coordinator at Marvel, said, “I grew up dreaming of working on Marvel films, so when I started my first job at Marvel, I felt like I couldn’t complain about the unpaid overtime, the lack of meal breaks, and the incredible pressure put on VFX teams to meet deadlines because I was just supposed to be grateful to be here at all. But the reality is that every worker deserves rights, and joining IATSE means we don’t have to choose between the job we love and having identities outside of our work.”

Disney’s VFX team also plans to vote on joining the union, with results expected on October 2.

This move by the VFX artists is part of a larger effort for better representation in the film industry. Many other roles, like camera operators and makeup artists, have been represented by IATSE for years.

One challenge in this journey has been the way VFX artists are hired. Many are brought in through third-party companies, with only a few directly hired by studios like Marvel or Disney. A past survey by IATSE revealed that only a small percentage of these direct hires receive continuous healthcare or retirement benefits.

The well-being of VFX artists has been a concern for a while. Marvel faced criticism for its work conditions, especially after the release of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Reports suggested that tight deadlines affected the quality of work, leaving some artists unhappy with the final product.


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