Disney World: The expansive theme park resort known as Disney World brings the magic of Disney to life.
It truly is a world unto itself, with four theme parks, two water parks, multiple hotels, and a variety of food and entertainment options.
Every corner of Disney World is packed with wonder and magic that appeals to tourists of all ages, from the famous Cinderella’s Castle to the exhilarating roller coasters.
Behind the scenes, however, the workforce is stirring as workers contemplate a new contract offer.
On Thursday and Friday, 32,000 Disney World employees will vote on a management offer.
The workers include:
- Restaurant and shop workers
- Bus, tram, and monorail drivers
- Front desk workers
- Hotel housekeepers
40% of the workforce is made up of full-time, contract employees that work for Disney World.
Currently, there are about 75,000 cast members working at the park, including full-time, part-time, hourly, and salaried workers.
The employment rates at Disney World are similar to those before to the pandemic.
Disney World is providing a five-year wage reform that will increase employees’ salaries by at least $1 per hour every year.
By 2026, workers will earn approximately $20 per hour as a result.
The firm also disclosed that in the first year of the deal, 46% of the cast members will receive raises of more than $1/hour.
A spokesperson for Disney named Andrea Finger described it as a highly compelling offer that ensured yearly raises throughout the course of the five-year contract.
A total of 33% to 46% in rises will be given to the majority of workers, she added.
Additionally, the new offer instantly compensates bus drivers and housekeepers more than $20 per hour.
Culinary employees, on the other hand, start at $20 to $25 per hour, depending on their role.
Employees will receive a wage raise starting on October 1 that is retroactive to when the last contract terminated.
It would give full-time employees one-time pre-tax payouts totaling more than $700.
Although the raises are tempting, union leaders advise members to reject the offer.
The union claims that Disney presented its proposal as the best they could provide, which is why members are required to cast a vote.
This isn’t the case since there is a preliminary agreement, under which an offer is normally put to a vote by rank-and-file union members.
The signs currently point to the offer being turned down, though.
The six union locals included by the contract demand an immediate 20% rise ($3 per hour), with an extra $ 1 hour hike each subsequent year, for what they claim is 75% of members making $15 per hour.
The president of the Service Trades Council Union, a group of six union locals bargaining with management, is 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 Disney World employee who began working there since 2018.
He has dressed up as a variety of Disney cartoon characters, including villains and characters from Star Wars.
Pulliam acknowledges that, despite his love for the job, he can no longer support it on his $15.85 per hour income, which is more than $550 per week.
“Me loving it, that’s not enough to pay the bills,” he said.
Apartment rent often costs over $1,800 per month, according to 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 bewilderment of others when he learned that former Disney executives were departing the company with sizable salaries.
Negotiations for the new union contract have been going on since August.
There hasn’t been a set date for the strike deadline or the strike authorization vote, despite widespread anticipation that the unions’ rank-and-file will reject the offer.
According to union leadership, if union members reject the offer, Disney will likely come up with a better one.
Disney said more discussions aren’t completely out of the question and that votes on contracts generally result in new rounds of negotiations.
“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 noted that employees receiving raises of more than $1 an hour work in roles where the business has difficulty attracting and retaining staff.