On Monday, August 7th, the Visual Effects (VFX) teams at Marvel Studios took a significant step by submitting a request for a unionization election to the National Labor Relations Board.
This is a huge deal. The VFX industry has almost totally operated without unions since the inception of VFX during the creation of the initial Star Wars movies in the 1970s.
A majority of the on-set production crew at Marvel, consisting of 52 members, signed authorization cards expressing their desire to be affiliated with the influential labor union that represents approximately 170,000 skilled professionals, including artisans, technicians, stagehands, and craftspeople, involved in TV, film, and live theater across the United States and Canada.
IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb said of the action, “We are witnessing 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.”
So why is this happening?
We’ve heard stories all year about VFX crews who are overworked and underpaid. There’s been public backlash for the VFX in some big films, with workers saying they’re not given enough time to complete tasks and are up against impossible deadlines.
Bella Huffman, a VFX Coordinator, gave a quote about the challenges of working in VFX, saying, “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.”
This is a major step forward for these workers. We’ll keep you updated as this story develops.