Marvel VFX Workers Form Union in Industry First
Visual effects (VFX) artists working for Marvel Studios have voted unanimously to form the first ever union including only VFX workers. The union is being organized through the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), and the election was held between August 21 and September 11. Organizers in charge of the event consider this to be an important first step in helping to improve pay and working conditions for VFX artists across the industry.
What Are VFX Workers?
Visual effects (VFX) workers are the artists and designers in charge of making computer generated effects for movies and TV shows, including many of the most popular franchises of the past two decades. This includes many of the effects done for Marvel Studios, which is responsible for a number of popular superhero movies, such as Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel, among many others. These artists are also often brought in to digitally alter films in post-production, including films that otherwise may not appear to have any digital effects.
Why Did They Unionize?
While VFX has been around in some form or another for about half a century, workers in the field have typically been excluded from union protections, including those that protect more traditional set designers or costume designers. As a result, they have often been exploited as a cheaper, more easily abused alternative, often being forced to work extended overtime with little to no compensation. This has led to many VFX artists complaining about low pay, emotional burnout, and sometimes serious medical and psychological problems due to overwork.
What is the Effect of This Vote?
As a result of this vote, VFX artists working for Marvel Studios will now be able to begin the process of collective bargaining for a union contract. This will allow them to more easily argue for better pay, better working conditions, and other potential benefits. It will also make it much harder for Marvel to exploit these workers by forcing them to work overtime without additional compensation.
Why is This Important?
This vote is considered important because it is the first major step towards unionizing the VFX industry. There are still many other artists suffering under similar conditions as those working under Marvel, however, and they have not yet unionized. However, organizers at IATSE see this as a positive sign that more studios will begin to unionize, helping to improve conditions for the artists that so much of the movie and TV industry has come to rely upon.
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