In a historic first for the entertainment industry, visual effects teams from Marvel Studios and its seven subsidiaries have voted unanimously in favor of unionizing with the IATSE during a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election. Before now, the VFX industry has not been represented by the IATSE, which has helped unionize hair and makeup, sound teams, and art directors.
Many IATSE members have shown their support and praise for the team in this accomplishment while wishing them the best. ”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,“ IATSE president Matthew Loeb gushes. With this vote completed, the IATSE will enter collective bargaining with Marvel Studios over a primary contract covering the VFX teams. As Loeb notes, the VFX team ”will enter negotiations with Marvel and Disney with the full backing and support of [their] 170,000-strong alliance.“
According to the NLRB, the new bargaining unit for the contract negotiations includes VFX production managers, coordinators, and data wranglers. While other employees, guards, and supervisors were left out of this unit, the contract will still cover their needs as negotiations begin.
Many VFX artists have cheered this result due to the harsh conditions they have endured while working on Marvel projects. One VFX coordinator, Sarah Kazuko Chow, recalls how she dredged through ”the unpaid overtime, the lack of meal breaks, and the incredible pressure put on VFX teams to meet deadlines.“ Even though she knew these conditions were near-inhuman, she felt pressured to bite her tongue since she was supposed to feel grateful for this opportunity to work in her dream studio. With this alliance with the IATSE, people like Chow ”don’t have to choose between the job we love and having identities outside of our work.”
Many eyes are on this bargaining collective as they await to see how their actions will affect the industry. Currently, VFX staffers from Disney are starting their voting with the NLRB, with results to be revealed on October 2.