VFX Union. Image Credit: IATSE VFX Union
Visual effects workers at Marvel Studios voted unanimously to unionize on Tuesday, a historic milestone in the industry. Out of 41 eligible workers, there were 32 votes for unionization, no votes against, and no ballots marked void. The workers will join the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, or IATSE, according to a press release by the union.
“I’m just so excited I could be part of this in some small way,” said Carolyn Newes, a visual effects coordinator at Marvel, in the statement shared by the union. “It’s so needed and so appreciated by everyone.”IATSE represents over 168,000 behind-the-scenes workers at many major studios, including Sony, Disney, and Warner Media. Historically, these workers have been in industries like costuming, hair and make-up design, or production technicians who work in areas like lighting or set design. The VFX Union is the first in its industry, and the union says it comes at a “pivotal moment” amid the ongoing writers’ and actors’ strikes, which video game performers may soon join. “Today’s count demonstrates the unprecedented demand for unionization across new sectors of the entertainment industry is very real,” said IATSE president Matthew Loeb. “To these VFX workers, I congratulate you on your historic victory. 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.”The next step, the Marvel VFX Union says, will be bargaining a contract with Marvel Studios, though no bargaining dates have been set yet. In other film and TV production industries, IATSE has won fair overtime pay and improved healthcare benefits—it’s likely that the VFX Union’s bargaining demands will be similar. A Marvel spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The unanimous union vote will soon be followed by another vote count, as workers at Disney’s visual effects studios have also filed to join IATSE, and are in the process of submitting their ballots, the press release said. The results of that election are expected on October 2. Though Disney owns Marvel, the two unionization efforts are separate, as the two groups of workers are based out of different studios within the larger Disney corporation.