Marvel Studios VFX Workers Vote to Unionize Amid Claims of Poor Working Conditions

Marvel Studios VFX voted in a supermajority to unionize on Monday.

Marvel VFX crews have voted to unionize. According to Vulture, a supermajority of more than 50 on-set employees petitioned to be represented by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) with the National Labor Relations Board. This petition asks for an election for representation with workers asking for the election to be held as early as August 21st of this year. This move is the first time that VFX professionals have come together to demand the same rights, protections, and professional oversight that other segments of the entertainment industry have via union representation. IATSE represents more than 170,000 artisans, technicians, stagehands, craftspeople, and more in television, film, and theater in the U.S. and Canada.

"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."

This move by Marvel's VFX crew comes on the heels of various reports in the past year of troubling working conditions for crews at the studio, reports that have claimed issues of overworking and underpayment. In January of this year there were reports that VFX artists for the studio were considering pursuing unionization.

"Turnaround times don't apply to us, protected hours don't apply to us, and pay equity doesn't apply to us," VFX coordinator Bella Huffman said. "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."

VFX Workers Are Just the Latest in Entertainment to Unionize

Earlier this year, workers at Sega of America voted in favor of forming a union. Plans were announced by the group back in April, creating the Allied Employees Guild Improving Sega (AEGIS-CWA). At the time, management at Sega of America had declined to voluntarily recognize the union. In a statement from April, Sega QA lead Mohammad Saman talked about the potential improvements for employees.

"By creating our union, AEGIA-CWA, we'll have a say in the decisions that shape our working conditions and ensure the job security and working conditions that we deserve," Saman said in a statement provided to Axios.

Nickelodeon workers also moved to unionize, voting to unionize at the end of 2022. In January it was reported that the company had agreed to work with The Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839.

Labor Relations is a Major Ongoing Issue in Hollywood

Marvel VFX workers moving to unionize comes as labor relations continue to be a major ongoing issue in Hollywood and entertainment. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has been on strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) since May 1st and while talks recently briefly resumed, they quickly stalled due to multiple issues. The actors' union, SAG-AFTRA, has also been on strike since mid-July with the dual strikes effectively resulting in a complete shutdown of Hollywood.

What do you think about Marvel Studios' VFX artists moving to unionize? Let us know in the comment section.