Marvel
Marvel

Marvel visual effects workers unanimously vote to Unionize

What To Know

  • Similar to their compatriots on strike, the VFX artists at Marvel harbor aspirations for a labor agreement that encompasses equitable remuneration, comprehensive healthcare provisions, and the establishment of a secure and sustainable work milieu, as articulated by Mark Patch, the VFX organizer for IATSE.
  • In the waning days of August, the VFX personnel affiliated with Walt Disney Pictures lodged an application with the National Labor Relations Board, thereby setting the wheels in motion for a prospective unionization election.
  • In late 2021, the union found itself engaged in a formidable standoff with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, ultimately culminating in the negotiation of a new labor contract.
  • This three-year accord featured provisions mandating a ten-hour interval of respite between shifts, a requirement of 54 hours of weekend reprieve, augmented funding for healthcare and pension schemes, and an annual rate increment of 3% for the duration of the agreement.

In the midst of two ongoing labor disputes, the realm of Hollywood now counts some fresh recruits within its union ranks. The visual effects artisans of Marvel Studios have resoundingly endorsed the notion of unionization under the aegis of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), an announcement made official on Wednesday. Notably, this represents the inaugural instance in which a faction comprised solely of VFX practitioners has chosen to unite under the banner of this organization.

In recent years, the VFX professionals have grappled with burgeoning workloads and exceedingly tight deadlines, all in the pursuit of realizing the grand spectacles that adorn the budgets of the industry’s most iconic franchise films. This relentless demand for excellence has engendered a palpable tension between these dedicated craftsmen and the influential studios they serve.

Disney, the corporate titan that holds sway over Marvel Studios, in particular, has compelled the VFX workforce to labor intensively over a slew of superhero sagas destined for both the silver screen and the burgeoning Disney+ streaming platform.

The contingent of VFX artists affiliated with Marvel Studios presently encompasses more than fifty individuals, according to the IATSE. Sarah Kazuko Chow, a VFX coordinator at Marvel, conveyed her personal journey, stating, “I grew up nurturing dreams of contributing to Marvel’s cinematic tapestry. Thus, upon embarking on my initial tenure at Marvel, I felt constrained from voicing grievances regarding the protracted unpaid overtime, the dearth of meal breaks, and the immense pressure exerted upon VFX teams to meet exigent deadlines. I was conditioned to an attitude of unbridled gratitude for the opportunity.”

Despite the momentous step taken by Marvel’s VFX workforce, representatives from Disney remained conspicuously silent in response to CNBC’s entreaty for commentary on the matter. The momentum towards unionization within the entertainment industry comes against the backdrop of concurrent labor strikes waged by the community of writers and actors in Hollywood.

Similar to their compatriots on strike, the VFX artists at Marvel harbor aspirations for a labor agreement that encompasses equitable remuneration, comprehensive healthcare provisions, and the establishment of a secure and sustainable work milieu, as articulated by Mark Patch, the VFX organizer for IATSE.

Marvel Studios VFX workers have unanimously voted to unionize

Marvel’s VFX artisans are not the sole collective in their field seeking to formalize their union. In the waning days of August, the VFX personnel affiliated with Walt Disney Pictures lodged an application with the National Labor Relations Board, thereby setting the wheels in motion for a prospective unionization election.

Now that the referendum has been validated, the Marvel VFX practitioners must engage in collective bargaining dialogues with the executives at Marvel Studios to craft a binding contractual accord. However, given the ongoing negotiations with the writers’ guild and the unresolved concerns of the striking actors, the VFX artists may encounter a protracted wait before gaining access to the negotiation table.

Matthew Loeb, the President of IATSE International, acknowledged the significance of this juncture, remarking, “Today’s tally unequivocally underscores the burgeoning demand for unionization across previously untapped segments of the entertainment industry.”

It bears mentioning that IATSE boasts a constituency numbering 170,000 strong, inclusive of a diverse array of industry professionals, from studio mechanics to the artisans responsible for wardrobe and makeup. In late 2021, the union found itself engaged in a formidable standoff with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, ultimately culminating in the negotiation of a new labor contract.

This three-year accord featured provisions mandating a ten-hour interval of respite between shifts, a requirement of 54 hours of weekend reprieve, augmented funding for healthcare and pension schemes, and an annual rate increment of 3% for the duration of the agreement. Furthermore, stringent penalties were instituted for any lapses in adherence to these stipulations.

In addressing the Marvel VFX artists, Loeb affirmed the unwavering support of IATSE, proclaiming to those who had cast their ballots in favor of unionization, “Your struggle resonates deeply within our ranks, and we stand in unison with your cause.”