The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Disney/Marvel have reached an election agreement, allowing Marvel’s in-house visual effects workers to vote to join a union, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
An election date of August 21 has been set and employees must submit their ballots by September 11. The ballots would be counted by a third party and if the vote passes, the union would be certified, IATSE organizer Mark Patch tells me THR.
A vast majority of Marvel’s roughly 50-strong VFX crew have already signed authorization cards indicating they wish to be represented by the union, and last week they filed an election with the National Labor Relations Board.
According to Patch, Disney and IATSE agreed to this faster election format. “We are going ahead with our elections and we are confident that they will win,” he says. According to Patch, no neutrality agreement was granted. Marvel did not immediately respond to a request for comment from THR.
Marvel VFX’s union efforts involve professionals directly employed by Marvel; it doesn’t include the thousands of artists working on Marvel movies through third-party VFX studios. If successful, this would be the first group to certify union participation amid wider calls for unionization in the VFX community.
Which Local these workers would join is still unclear. Patch tells THR that IATSE’s idea is to create a new national VFX Local that would cover VFX workers, whether they are employed directly by the studios, production, or third-party VFX companies. “The majority of VFX employees should feel at home in this new union,” he says.
Patch adds that the goal would be to have members of such a local work under the Basic Agreement contract already used by entertainment workers in 13 local communities, including the International Cinematographers Guild (Local 600) and Motion Picture Editors Guild ( Local 700). The current base contract expires in 2024 and negotiations on a new contract are expected to begin in March.
The VFX industry was actively exploring the potential of a union ten years ago following the bankruptcy of Rhythm & Hues in the wake of completing the Oscar-winning work on Pi’s life, but it never happened. More recently, a new effort to organize has begun.
The union effort comes not only against the backdrop of the Hollywood work stoppage, but also against a wider rise in union efforts in the United States within companies such as Amazon and Starbucks.