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Visual Effects Artists Speak Out Against Marvel Mistreatment 

Media outlets have reported first-hand accounts of individuals who have worked for Marvel’s visual effects department, stating that the company constantly had high demands and would overwork employees for little money to create the movie magic we’re all used to when we turn on a Marvel film. 

Dhruv Govil, a visual effects artist who worked on a handful of Marvel films, tweeted: “Working on Marvel shows is what pushed me to leave the VFX industry. They’re a horrible client, and I’ve seen way too many colleagues break down after being overworked while Marvel tightens the purse strings.”  

“The issue is Marvel is too big, and can demand whatever they want. It’s a toxic relationship.” 

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An anonymous visual effects artist told New York Magazine’s Vulture site:  “When I worked on one movie, it was almost six months of overtime every day. I was working seven days a week, averaging 64 hours a week on a good week. Marvel genuinely works its workers really hard. I’ve had co-workers sit next to me, break down and start crying. I’ve had people having anxiety attacks on the phone.”

Joe Pavlo, an Emmy award-winning visual effects artist who worked on Guardians Of The Galaxy stated that working for the company was a “crazy mess.” 

“The visual effects industry is filled with terrific people with lots of goodwill who really care but, at the end of the day, there’s nothing in place when their backs are up against the wall and Disney is making crazy demands,” Pavlo told The Guardian

“All the goodwill in the world just evaporates when everything gets changed and they decide they’re replacing that character with a different actor or changing the entire environment – they’re now in a pizza restaurant instead of a cornfield. It can be that extreme at the very last minute,” Pavlo continued. 

“It can be characterized as bullying but filtered through multiple layers of management and supervisor and hierarchy. It’s not like the executive from Disney is grabbing someone and swearing at them or something like that. It’s more like an atmosphere where everybody feels like this is the most desperately important thing and, if we don’t do it, we’re all f*cked.”

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“The average artist doesn’t even have any contact with the clients. It’s really just the people at the producer and the supervisor level and then they pass it on to their crew. So you could say, oh, the supervisor’s a real bully, but actually it’s a knock-on effect and then the people who are the team leaders, once they can’t handle it, end up being bullies,” Pavlo exclaimed. 

“Bullying is a huge problem in our industry because everybody’s so desperate sometimes. It seems like there’s such a high level of stress and pressure on these jobs to complete on time, to change everything at the drop of a hat.”

Pavlo is also the chair of the animation and visual effects branch for Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theater Union (BECTU). 

“Disney-Marvel is very famous for wanting multiple versions running parallel so that they can decide what they want. A strong union would be able to reel that in a bit.

“If you imagine you get the art department to design a set, you wouldn’t get them to tear down the set and rebuild a completely different set 35 times. Because it’s digital, people don’t see it as the same thing but it is: it involves work and creativity and long hours. It doesn’t create itself,” Pavlo explained, adding that the recent union organizing efforts from Amazon and Starbucks workers have offered a “possible blueprint” for how VFX artists can follow suit. 

“Disney is going to have to utilize their visual effects teams more and they need to be compensated for their contribution and working conditions. Ultimately they’re going to get to that point but it takes one person like that article from Vulture to say, hey, it’s time for somebody to step in and protect this side of it, as have all of the other departments been protected as well.”

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US Restaurant Workers Demanding Livable Wages Amid Reopenings 

America’s restaurant industry has opened up for business, however, a majority of staffers in these eateries are still coping with the hardships of the Covid-19 pandemic, its economic impact, and the responsibility of enforcing health and safety protocols on angry customers for small wages. 

Restaurants all throughout the country have been struggling to find enough workers who are willing to fill open positions for minimum payment. Many industry workers throughout the nation blame the labor shortages on poor pay, unsafe working conditions, disrespect from customers, and concerns over the pandemic in general. 

Iesha Franceis is an employee at a Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers chain in Durham, North Carolina, who recently spoke to the Guardian about why she believes restaurants throughout the nation are struggling.  

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“I currently make $11.40 an hour, employees are still struggling and employers are still not caring, and it’s their own fault these corporations are experiencing worker shortages. We are all still not making livable wages and these companies are still trying to penny pinch any way that they can.”

The leisure and hospitality industry currently has 1.7 million fewer jobs available when compared to before the pandemic. For the food industry, jobs declined by 42,000 in the month of August 2021, and overall has experienced a surge of workers quitting all throughout 2021. 

Francis herself led multiple walkouts at her restaurant over Covid-19 safety concerns and poor working conditions throughout the entire pandemic. This is a common form of protest that many industry workers have turned to in order to show their employers that they should be valued for being an essential worker during a global health crisis, and being paid like they’re working a summer job in high school is not going to cut it anymore. 

Franceis explained “many employees left through the pandemic while operating hours are still reduced, which has left me and my co-workers to deal with increased workloads and work extra hours to try to compensate for staffing shortages.

“Pay me what I’m worth. Because if I can sacrifice myself for your business to keep your wheels turning, then it’s time that you sacrifice yourself to keep my wheels turning. It’s off of our backs that their lives are so easy.”

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A spokesperson for Freddy’s said in an email: “Freddy’s has an uncompromising commitment to safety and expects each of our franchisees to provide a safe working environment for their employees, including following proper cleaning and sanitation protocols. Additionally, as an independent franchisee, the local owner in Durham is solely responsible for setting their employees’ hourly pay and salaries.”

Lily Nicholson is a server at a restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee who discussed the constant harassment and issues workers are facing from customers who refuse to abide by mask mandates and Covid-19 safety protocols. Leading to a much bigger discussion over why low-paid employees are having to deal with verbal abuse from customers when they’re the ones working during a pandemic to provide services. 

“It’s such a precarious scenario. We’ve been the worker who has been deputized into enforcing this rule at the door that you’re supposed to have a mask on, so at the door you already have an altercation,” said Nicholson.

Many fast food employees also had no paid sick leave throughout the entire pandemic, so if they did happen to catch Covid, they were losing money everyday they had to stay home, and in some cases, employees were fired for not showing up. 

Essential workers in every industry are growing tired of not being as valued as the nation has made it seem to be throughout the past two years. Individuals are literally putting their lives on the line to clock into work and make the bare minimum so they can continue to scrap by. Time will tell how much longer the food industry, and others, will be able to last without a proper source of labor.