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Marvel's In-House VFX Workers Set a Date for a Union Vote

Organizing with IATSE, workers will vote on whether or not they wish to unionize starting on August 21.

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Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man in Marvel Studios' Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios.
Image: Marvel Studios

The road to unionization in the VFX and animation industries has been long and difficult. There’s a predatory bidding system, studios that take advantage of contracts, and a massive base of freelancers who need to work. Disney and Marvel in particular have benefitted from a lack of unionization in VFX—something that could soon change, amid a double Hollywood strike as the WGA and SAG-AFTRA fight for a fair contract.

Marvel’s own in-house VFX workshop has collaborated with IATSE—the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees—and parent company Disney on a stipulated election agreement that will allow the workers to vote on whether or not they want to organize through a union. The Hollywood Reporter writes that cards will be passed out on August 21, and ballots will be counted after the September 11 deadline.


According to THR, a supermajority of Marvel’s VFX studio, which includes about 50 workers, has already signed authorization cards indicating they wished to be represented by the union. Additionally, last week workers filed for a unionization election with the National Labor Relations Board.

Marvel’s VFX studio unionizing might be the first step toward other studios and shops organizing. Many production studios, even if they have in-house VFX teams, farm out a lot of work to independent studios, which hire people on a project-by-project basis. This constant churn of workers makes it difficult for smaller VFX studios to unionize and creates a system where anyone who attempts to do so might not be hired for additional work elsewhere.


THR says that IATSE wants to “form a new national VFX Local that would cover VFX workers, whether they are employed directly by the studios, the production, or third-party VFX companies.” Mark Patch, an IATSE organizer, states that “the majority of VFX workers should be able to find their home in this new union.”

If this union forms, it could be what turns the tide for VFX workers and animators in Hollywood, who have long been beholden to the whims of studio demands. This is the second major unionization effort from VFX studios; the first happened nearly a decade ago when the VFX studio Rhythm and Hues went bankrupt after working on Life of Pi. It received an Oscar for that work in 2013, even as its business shuttered.

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