Friday, July 12, 2024

‘We know our value’: Disneyland workers to vote on strike following slow negotiations

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A coalition of labor unions representing thousands of Disneyland workers will vote next week on whether to authorize a strike following unsuccessful negotiations with Disney.

The vote comes after the coalition recently filed labor violation complaints against the company with the National Labor Relations Board. The group represents around 14,000 employees at both the Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks, as well as Disney hotels and the Downtown Disney shopping center.

“We won’t accept less than what we deserve because we know our value to Disney,” the Disney Workers Rising Bargaining Committee said in a news release on Tuesday. “By undermining our rights, Disney has only made harder our fight to help our guests and keep our parks safe, which is why we are compelled to take a vote next week on whether to authorize a strike after our contract expired.”

The committee said that Disney has unlawfully disciplined, intimidated and surveilled union members for “exercising their right to wear union buttons at work.”

Negotiations began in April, with the most recent one occurring Monday. Disney wrote on its website that the company is committed to reaching an agreement focused on “what matters most to our current cast members, helps us attract new cast, and positions Disneyland Resort for growth and the creation of more jobs.”

Disney says union pins violate park guest code

Disney has argued that the union pins, which depict Mickey Mouse’s gloved hand raising a fist, violate park dress code.

On July 1, union members handed pins out to guests outside the entrance to the Downtown Disney shopping center, which connects to both theme parks in Anaheim, California, encouraging them to show solidarity by signing a petition and wearing the pins.

Cindy Marquez, a member of the bargaining committee, said the meetings with the company have been moving “slower than a turtle,” adding that it could take over 25 more meeting before employees can get livable wages.

“The unions pretty much advised Disney that we were at a standstill until they took this serious,” Marquez told USA TODAY on July 1. “A company doesn’t thrive without the work being performed down on the floor. It shouldn’t just be the top getting wealthy, it should be spread throughout the whole park and that way you come to work happy, healthy and ready to go.”

64% of Disneyland workers are ‘rent-burdened’

Among the central goals for union members are higher wages, with the coalition saying that 64% of workers are “rent-burdened” and nearly one in three face food insecurity.

Hilary Plata, an attractions hostess of Pirates of the Caribbean, previously told USA TODAY that she’s worked at the park for 18 years and at one point lived in her car for over a month when she couldn’t afford to live in Southern California despite working 50 hours a week.

“I make a career out of making people happy. I make dreams come true for a living and maybe that sounds cheesy and a little cringey but that’s what I do. That’s what people come to Disneyland for,” Plata said. “They come for the kindness and they come for the magic. And that’s what we provide. And we deserve to be compensated fairly, we deserve to be treated fairly. We deserve to be seen as real people.”

The contract for Disneyland employees expired on June 16 and the one for Disney California Adventure and Downtown Disney cast members expires on Sept. 30.

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