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Marvel Studios' VFX Staff Is Aiming to Unionize

The "summer of labor" continues as VFX workers come together to form their own union.

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Main poster for Marvel Studios' Avengers: Endgame.
Image: Marvel Studios

Almost a full year after allegations of overwork and poor conditions, the visual effects staff at Marvel Studios is forming its own union.

Per Vulture, 52 on-set employees filed an petition for an election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Represented by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the workers have asked the election take place two weeks from now on Monday, August 21. It’s the first time a visual effects department has established its own union, and comes in the wake of a labor-heavy summer that’s seen the likes of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike for better pay and working conditions.


In a statement, IATSE’s VFX organizer Mark Patch called the Marvel Studios union “a historic first step for VFX workers coming together with a collective voice demanding respect for what we do. 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.”


Bella Huffman, a VFX coordinator within Hollywood, added that factors such as pay equity and turnaround times have been overlooked in her slice of the industry. “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 VFX industry has suffered from crunch and being saddled with multiple projects for years, several of them for big tentpole films like Marvel or DC, with the former often referred to as one of the worst clients. Unionizing within that studio would be may lead to other VFX departments choosing to unionize in time, as has happened with video games over the last year or two. At time of writing, there aren’t any rumblings of a strike across the VFX industry, but if there’s one thing we’re learning this summer, it’s that you shouldn’t rule out that possibility.


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