Marvel Studios visual effects workers unanimously voted to unionize, marking the first time a group of solely VFX workers has elected to join the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the union said Wednesday.
The sector has historically lacked guild representation, but in the midst of simultaneous Hollywood strikes by actors and writers, there has been movement among Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Pictures visual effects artists to be a part of a collective bargaining unit. Results of the Walt Disney Pictures VFX workers’ union vote are expected next month.
“Today’s count demonstrates the unprecedented demand for unionization across new sectors of the entertainment industry is very real,” said IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb.
Thomas Barnard, VFX coordinator at Marvel, called the group’s unionization “historic.”
“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,” Barnard said in a statement.
The Marvel Studios workers’ votes were counted Tuesday. There were 41 eligible voters, with 32 ballots counted, according to information posted on the National Labor Relations Board’s website.
With the workers now part of IATSE, they will later work to negotiate for a collective bargaining agreement with their employer, the union said.
It is expected that Marvel Studios will bargain with IATSE in good faith to reach that agreement, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly.
The vote comes at a challenging time for visual effects artists who have been inundated with demands from studios for CGI-heavy shows and movies. Some have complained publicly about long hours and arduous working conditions.