Over 50 on-set VFX workers at Marvel have filed a petition for an election that would see them represented by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), Vulture reports. The petition asks for the election to be held as early as August 21.

The petition is a first for union action within the VFX industry, though discontent with Marvel’s treatment of VFX artists has been growing over the past few years, even as the studio continues to pump out VFX-reliant blockbusters. A supermajority of Marvel’s 50+ on-set VFX crew has signed authorization cards saying they want to be represented by IATSE, which currently represents over 168,000 workers in live theater, film, and TV production, including the equipment and production shops that support these productions.

“For almost half a century, workers in the visual effects industry have been denied the same protections and benefits their coworkers and crewmates have relied upon since the beginning of the Hollywood film industry,” said VFX organizer for IATSE Mark Patch. “This is a historic first step for VFX workers coming together with a collective voice demanding respect for the work we do.”

“Turnaround times don’t apply to us, protected hours don’t apply to us, and pay equity doesn’t apply to us,” added VFX coordinator Bella Huffman. “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.”

The move towards unionization comes in the middle of historic strikes by both the Writer’s Guild of America and the Screen Actor’s Guild, which have disrupted many of Hollywood’s highest-profile productions. With the industry’s VFX workers now demanding recognition, a VFX strike could also be on the horizon.

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