Image source: The Business Journals
Disney World: A huge theme park complex called Disney World brings the Disney magic to life.
It truly is a world unto itself, with four theme parks, two water parks, several hotels, and a broad variety of food and entertainment options.
Every square inch of Disney World, from the iconic Cinderella’s Castle to the exhilarating roller coasters, is bursting with wonder and magic that draws tourists of all ages.
However, as workers evaluate a new contract offer, the workforce is stirring in the background.
On Thursday and Friday, 32,000 Disney World staff members will vote on a management contract offer.
The workers include:
- Restaurant and shop workers
- Bus, tram, and monorail drivers
- Front desk workers
- Hotel housekeepers
Approximately 40% of the workforce at Disney World is made up of full-time contract workers.
The park currently employs about 75,000 cast members, including full-time, part-time, hourly, and salaried workers.
The employment rates at Disney World are similar to those from before the Covid-19 pandemic.
A five-year compensation adjustment that would see employees’ yearly salaries rise by at least $1 per hour is being offered by Disney World.
As a result, by 2026, employees will be paid about $20 per hour.
The business also said that within the first year of the arrangement, 46% of the cast members will receive raises of more than $1/hour.
According to Disney spokesperson Andrea Finger, the offer was particularly enticing because it promised yearly raises for the term of the five-year contract.
She said that the majority of workers will earn rises ranging from 33% to 46% overall.
Additionally, the new offer immediately compensates bus drivers and housekeepers more than $20 per hour.
On the other hand, culinary staff members often start at $20 to $25 per hour, depending on their role.
Employees will begin receiving a salary raise on October 1 that is retroactive to the day the most previous contract expired.
It would provide full-time employees one-time, pre-tax bonuses totaling more than $700.
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Union leaders advise members to decline the raises, regardless of how tempting they may be.
The union claims that members were obliged to vote because Disney presented its proposal as the best they could.
This is not the case since there is a preliminary agreement and offers are frequently put to a vote by rank-and-file union members.
But as of now, all indications point to the offer being rejected.
The six union locals included by the agreement demand that its members, who they claim now make 75% of the contract’s $15 per hour minimum pay, receive an immediate 20% rise ($3 per hour), plus an extra $ 1 hour increase each subsequent year.
The Service Trades Council Union, a combination of six union locals dealing with management, is led by Matt Hollis.
“The unions have been clear from our very first bargaining session that a dollar in the first year is not enough,” said Hollis.
“A dollar does not afford Disney workers with the ability to keep up with the skyrocketing rent increases.”
“And a dollar does not afford Disney workers with the ability to continue to purchase basic necessities, such as food, gas, and utilities.”
What workers are saying
Jonathan Pulliam is a worker at Disney World who started there in 2018.
He has dressed up as a variety of Disney cartoon characters, including villains and Star Wars characters.
Pulliam acknowledges that despite his love for the job, he can no longer support himself on his $15.85 per hour wage, which works out to more than $550 per week.
“Me loving it, that’s not enough to pay the bills,” he said.
Apartment rent regularly reaches $1,800 per month, claims Realtor.com.
Without living with his sister, Jonathan Pulliam would not have been able to make ends meet.
“I’d probably be living in my car,” he said, recalling his annual childhood trips to Disney World with his family.
“I know several who are living in cars because they can’t afford to pay rent.”
“It’s a tourist area. Everything’s expensive.”
“I’m filling my car three times a week,” Pulliam continued. “I would love to ask these execs if they could get by on $1 an hour more.”
“It’s disheartening. They don’t have to decide [whether] … to eat or get gas.”
Jonathan Pulliam shared the bafflement of others when he learned that former Disney executives were departing the company with big compensation packages.
Since August, talks have been going on about the new union contract.
No date has been set for the strike deadline or the strike authorization vote, despite widespread confidence that the rank-and-file of the unions will reject the offer.
If union members reject the present offer, the union leadership believes Disney will make a better one.
Disney indicated that more discussions aren’t completely out of the question and that the outcomes of contract votes frequently trigger new rounds of talks.
“While Disney insists at the bargaining table that this is the best offer, we know Disney can do better, and Disney knows they must do better,” said Matt Hollis.
Additionally, he emphasized that employees who receive raises of more than $1 an hour occupy jobs for which the business struggles to recruit and retain employees.