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IATSE Escalates VFX Workers’ Push to Unionize with New Survey

The union launched a survey Monday that is designed to study working conditions and pay compared to industry standards.

"Captain America: Civil War" Green Screen

“Captain America: Civil War” Green Screen

Marvel / courtesy Everett Collection

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) is escalating its push to get visual effects workers to organize as a union, launching a survey on Monday that is designed to study working conditions and pay rates for VFX talent in Hollywood compared to other industry standards.

Though other inquiries into this area have been made before, the survey is the first time IATSE has sponsored an official VFX study. The survey, which is open to all those in the VFX space, including non-IATSE members, is available here. It polls industry workers on salary, workplace safety, overtime pay, available resources, and more.

“VFX is integral to almost every film and television production made today. Yet the workers who make VFX possible are among the only film and TV workers not represented by a union today,” IATSE organizer and VFX worker Mark Patch said in an official statement. “Knowing our worth is an essential step towards building a more sustainable VFX industry.”

IATSE communications director Jonas Loeb explained that the union’s involvement in this push is intended to drive higher participation than ever before, such that “the more in the VFX community that participate, the more representative the study will be.”

VFX workers in recent months have been vocal about intense workloads, low pay, and long hours that have plagued the industry as more and more movies and TV shows have demanded elaborate CGI work, with some arguing that conditions have only worsened in recent years as the demand for content has exploded.

A Vulture article from this summer lambasted Marvel and its policies toward VFX workers. That was followed by another piece in Bloomberg from September discussing the unionization effort, saying there is four times as much content in the pipeline than in years past. It’s a result of more streamers and pandemic-related delays that have consistently pushed back completion times on big-budget, effects driven movies as studios aggressively try to revitalize the theatrical business. The Bloomberg article also said the goal is to organize more than a thousand VFX workers by next fall.

The survey is open to all who work in the VFX space, including non-IATSE members. All submissions will be anonymized and tallied with aggregated totals. Submissions will be accepted through January 31, 2023 and results are slated for release shortly afterwards.

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