Today, after all votes have been counted by the National Labor Relations Board, IATSE stated that Marvel’s in-house VFX studio unanimously voted “yes” to forming a union with IATSE. The “unprecedented demand” for unionization in digital Hollywood industries comes at a critical moment for the labor movement, IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb said in a statement.
The vote is historic not just for its overwhelming support but also because this is the first times that a unit of “solely VFX workers” has successfully unionized with IATSE, according to a tweet from IATSE.
A lot of factors can prevent a VFX studio from attempting unionization, including short-term contracts, an oversaturated market for work, and the unspoken threat of blackballing. In the same statement, workers at Marvel told IATSE what this vote meant to them—like assistant coordinator Anna George, who said that “it was so emotional hearing the yes’s and knowing we were fighting for what we deserve. What a powerful moment!” Thomas Barnard, aVFX coordinator at Marvel, said “this is historic and I’m glad to be part of it. Not only will this radically change the game by increasing the quality of storytelling through our work, it’s also a huge step forward for taking care of the unsung individuals who helped to build the industry.”
Sarah Kazuko Chow, a VFX Coordinator at Marvel, described some of the conditions that make working in VFX—not just at Marvel, but across the industry—extremely difficult. “I felt like I couldn’t complain about the unpaid overtime, the lack of meal breaks, and the incredible pressure put on VFX teams to meet deadlines because I was just supposed to be grateful to be here at all.”
IATSE’s Loeb added, “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. You will enter negotiations with Marvel and Disney with the full backing and support of our 170,000 strong alliance. Your fight is our fight.”
And the VFX studio will likely be in for a fight of superheroic proportions. They are now going to move forward with their union to “engage in collective bargaiing negotiations” with Marvel and DIsney. IASTE reports that as of September 13 there have been no negotiation dates scheduled.
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