Washington, D.C. — In a move to address long-standing disparities and ensure equity for Visual Effects (VFX) workers within the motion picture and television industry, representatives from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) were invited to speak at a meeting of the Congressional Labor Caucus, Thursday. The delegation included IATSE Political/Legislative Director Tyler McIntosh, IATSE Political/Legislative Assistant Director Jackson Rees, IATSE International Representative and VFX Organizer Mark Patch, and Marvel Assistant VFX Coordinator Anna George.
The Congressional Labor Caucus is an official caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives co-chaired by Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Steven Horsford (D-NV), and Debbie Dingell (D-MI). The caucus is currently comprised of 102 members working to advance the needs of the labor movement, combat the issues facing working families, and connect legislators directly with unions and union leaders.
Anna George, an integral figure in the Marvel VFX team, shared her personal journey, emphasizing the grave disparities in wages, working conditions, and benefits between VFX workers and their unionized counterparts in other departments. “On both of my Marvel shows, VFX workers have spoken nonstop about our need for a union,” she stated, revealing the difficulties faced in an industry that demands so much yet, often, compensates so little. Her compelling narrative shed light on the vast differences in pay scales, lack of standardization across studios, and the imperative need for unionization to establish equity.
Mark Patch, reflecting on his journey as a VFX worker turned IATSE organizer, stated the widespread sentiment in the VFX community plainly, “Why is everyone else union besides VFX?” Patch highlighted the historical trajectory of the VFX industry, tracing back to the days of Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) and Star Wars. “The visual effects industry is now, from Hollywood’s standpoint, ‘too big to fail’,” he added, pointing out the indispensability of VFX in contemporary cinema and media production. The testimonial shed light on the indispensable role VFX plays in modern storytelling and its profound economic impact, emphasizing the dire need for equity and respect.
Both George and Patch’s speeches centered around the principle that VFX workers, much like every other worker in the entertainment industry, deserve protection, representation, and equitable compensation including healthcare and retirement benefits. Their insights underscore the growing demand and absolute necessity for unionization in the VFX sector.
The pair was joined by IATSE Political/Legislative Director Tyler McIntosh, who facilitated the union’s participation in the Congressional Labor Caucus event. He delivered remarks highlighting some of IATSE’s key federal legislative priorities, like passing H.R. 2871, the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act, and emphasized IATSE’s Core Principles for Applications of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Technology. “This opportunity to address the Congressional Labor Caucus is yet another example of how remaining engaged in politics directly benefits IATSE members and entertainment workers more broadly. By supporting candidates who stand with entertainment workers and prioritize our unique issues, we are afforded a seat at the table where our laws are made to influence policy for the benefit of entertainment workers,” said McIntosh as he recounted the meeting.
The Marvel VFX workers’ and IATSE delegation’s participation in the Congressional Labor Caucus event comes at a watershed moment within the motion picture and television industry. Amidst a widespread work stoppage that began nearly a year ago and the ongoing Actors strike, the call for equity and fair representation has never been louder. As the strikes under the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) persist, the IATSE is seeing unprecedented interest in unionizing throughout historically non-union crafts and sectors across the entertainment industry, including VFX and Video Games.
IATSE is building off recent momentum and continues to have conversations regarding unionization across the VFX industry. For more information regarding this ongoing campaign, please visit vfxunion.org.