“Marvel VFX artists, assemble!”
That might very well be the rallying cry for a group of over 50 visual effects on-set and post-production employees who petitioned to demand union recognition from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) this past Monday following several months of distress surrounding workplace conditions and culture.
These Marvel VFX artists have become the first to unionize after a supermajority of the employees signed union cards.
“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,” VFX organizer for IATSE Mark Patch said in a statement. “This is a historic first step for VFX workers coming together with a collective voice demanding respect for what we do.”
VFX artist Bella Huffman added in an IATSE press release, “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.”
The Marvel VFX artists’ call for unionization comes at a time where other Hollywood industry workers are calling for labor reforms, most notably the Writer’s Guild of America strike, which will hit 100 days soon as of this writing and the SAG-AFTRA strike nearing a month.
“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,” Matthew D. Loeb, IATSE president, said in the press release. “Entertainment workers everywhere are sticking up for each other’s rights, that’s what our movement is all about.”
In a past interview with Vulture, several VFX artists described the working conditions under Marvel Studios, particularly under Marvel Studios’ president of VFX Victoria Alonso, as “bullying.” According to the artists, Alonso “cultivated a culture of fear by controlling an industry blacklist.”
“She is known in the industry as a kingmaker,” a former Marvel Studios VFX tech told Vulture. “If she likes you, you are going to get work and move up in the industry. If you have pissed her off in any way, you’re going to get frozen out.”
What are your thoughts on the news that Marvel VFX artists have become the first to unionize after claims of overworked and underpaid conditions? Let us know in the comments.