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The famously overworked visual effects workers behind the Marvel movies just voted to join a union

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The visual effects (VFX) workers at Disney-owned Marvel have voted in favor or joining a union—the first time visual effects professionals have pushed for that sort of representation.

A supermajority of the 52-member on-set production crew have asked to be represented by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), a part of the National Labor Relations Board.

That union also represents hair and makeup artists, wardrobe, lighting and prop personnel.

VFX workers at Marvel have been unhappy with their compensation and the pace of production schedules in the past, with some claiming they were given nearly impossible deadlines to achieve effects.

“Turnaround times don’t apply to us, protected hours don’t apply to us, and pay equity doesn’t apply to us,” VFX coordinator Bella Huffman said in a statement. “Visual effects must become a sustainable and safe department for everyone who’s suffered far too long and for all newcomers who need to know they won’t be exploited.”

Last year, Dhruv Govil, who worked on Spider-Man: Homecoming and Guardians of the Galaxy, took to Twitter (in a now-deleted post) to slam the company for overworking teams and low salaries.

“Working on Marvel shows is what pushed me to leave the VFX industry,” he wrote. “I’ve seen way too many colleagues break down after being overworked, while Marvel tightens the purse strings.”

The unionization movement comes as Disney and other studios are in the midst of dealing with a strike from the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actor’s Guild. That has largely shut down production of films and television series across the entertainment capital.

Marvel has been a center of VFX use in recent years, as the films have been big productions that rely on movie magic to bring the comic book heroes to life.

“We are witnessing an unprecedented wave of solidarity that’s breaking down old barriers in the industry and proving we’re all in this fight together,” said IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb. “That doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Entertainment workers everywhere are sticking up for each other’s rights, that’s what our movement is all about.”



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