Disneyland cast members could walk off the job; here's why

Some 14,000 cast members at Disney parks and hotels will take part in a strike authorization vote as their unions allege hundreds of labor violations.

Disneyland cast members could walk off the job; here's why
Disney Workers Rising, which connects the four unions that represent 14,000 Disney workers will vote on whether they will walk off the job this month. Photo courtesy of Disney Workers Rising.

The unions that represent 14,000 cast members at Disneyland, California Adventure, Downtown Disney and Disney hotels said Tuesday that workers are taking part in a strike authorization vote with results expected by July 20.

The announcement comes after employees filed unfair labor practice charges against Disney in May for "unlawful discipline, intimidation and surveillance of union members exercising their right to wear union buttons at work," according to a statement from Disney Workers Rising.

More than 675 cast members report that they have been affected by these labor violations. The allegations are being investigated by the National Labor Relations Board, the unions said.

"We know these actions are only an attempt to stop us from exercising our rights and saddle us with a contract that perpetuates the status quo at Disney," the unions' bargaining committee said of the violations Tuesday.

Disney officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Disney cast members are collectively represented by four unions: Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) Local 83, the Service Employees International Union-United Service Workers West (SEIU-USWW), the Teamsters Local 495 and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 324.

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A contract for cast members at Disneyland expired on June 16. Meanwhile, the contract for Disney California Adventure and Downtown Disney cast members is set to expire Sept. 30. Workers say the company has interfered with their right to draw up and finalize new contracts.

“Our goal for negotiations has always been to reach an agreement with Disney — one that provides cast members with wages they need to live in Southern California, the respect they deserve for the years they’ve dedicated to the company and an attendance policy that works for everyone while keeping park guests safe," the committee said.

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According to a survey cited by the unions, 73% of Disney's workers do not earn enough money to cover basic expenses each month.

A separate survey of cast members this year found the following, according to Disney Workers Rising: 28% of cast members report experiencing food insecurity; 64% of cast members are “rent-burdened” or spending more than half of their monthly paychecks on rent; 33% of cast members experienced housing insecurity in the past year; 42% of cast members said they had to miss work for medical treatment because they didn’t have enough sick leave.

According to Disney, cast members starting wages range from $19.90 per hour to $24.15 per hour.

If workers vote to authorize a strike, that does not mean they are automatically on strike. Instead, it allows them to strike at will if Disney continues to not meet their demands.

In May, Disneyland performers —  including those costumed as Mickey Mouse and friends and the dancers in the park’s daily parades — voted to form their own union. They are among the few types of employees in the parks that have long gone without union representation.

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