As we all know, Disney cast members are the ones that create the magic for us guests. They work so hard to ensure that we all have a great experience, and if anything less than magical happens while at the parks, they are there to help. As we mentioned on a recent Tuesday show, cast members deserve a raise not only because they work hard but because the cost of living has increased.
Happening now: Unionized Disney employees are rallying in Kissimmee, just off Disney World property, for a fair wage.— Katie Rice (@katievrice) November 30, 2022
Unions representing Disney’s employees are continuing bargaining this week. Wage increases, health care costs and retirement are issues still on the table. pic.twitter.com/YlUwdEjNON
On Wednesday, November 30th, hundreds of Disney employees marched along Maingate Lane and U.S. Highway 192 in Kissimmee. The Orlando Sentinel wrote an article showcasing stories that cast members shared during the rally and the reason for the rally.
If it weren’t for the assistance of their parents, Disney World worker Amethyst Bennett said she and her husband, a Universal employee, would be unable to afford formula and diapers for their 9-month-old daughter despite both working full-time. Bennett, 28, held a sign that read, ‘Full-Time Can’t Buy Formula’ as she took turns pushing daughter Shealyn’s stroller during a Wednesday rally with a couple hundred other Disney workers, many still in their costumes from work, asking the company for higher pay.Orlando Sentinel
Many cast members have watched Disney increase prices in the parks and no wage increase. Many theme park goers believe the company can afford raises for cast members since they have raised the price on almost everything.
“[The company is] like a pyramid. If we are not there [at the base], it would collapse,” said 28-year-old David Ramirez, who earns $15 an hour working at an Animal Kingdom attraction.Orlando Sentinel
According to the Sentinel’s article, Disney has been negotiating with the unions and proposed gradually increasing starting pay to twenty dollars an hour over the next five years. It was reported that cast members participating in the rally were chanting, “Magic doesn’t pay the bills” and “We deserve more than Chapek ever did!!”.
The previous agreement that was made in 2018 expired on October 1st. The deal was that they would get to a fifteen-dollar-an-hour minimum wage by 2021. When this was enforced, it influenced other hospitality companies in the area to do the same.
Now that they made that progress and the cost of living has gone up substantially, unions are pushing for the company to immediately increase the minimum pay to eighteen dollars an hour and raise the wage of employees that make close to that amount by three dollars an hour. Maybe this rally could inspire change in local businesses like that deal did back in 2018.
Angela Finger, a Disney spokesperson, issued a statement in response to the wage issue.
We have presented a strong and meaningful offer that far outpaces Florida minimum wage by at least $5 an hour and immediately takes starting wages for certain roles including bus drivers, housekeepers and culinary up to a minimum of $20 an hour while providing a path to $20 for all other full-time, non-tipped STCU roles during the contract term.Andrea Finger
Here is another story from a cast member that works at Hollywood Studios.
Hollywood Studios merchandise employee Nicky Wilkins said she has to borrow money from her family to support herself, even as she lives with her adult son and two other roommates and the household shares one car. Wilkins, 39, discussed her three-hour, one-way commute by busto Disney in the 2019 Orlando Sentinel series “Laborland,” which chronicled the struggles of Orlando’s low-wage workers. She said she currently makes $15 an hour. “We’re paying over $2,000 in rent. You want to give us a dollar more [annually]? The cost of living is expensive,” she said Wednesday.Orlando Sentinel
The best thing we Disney fans can do right now is to say thank you to the front-line cast members. They help keep the magical place we call home up and running. Let’s make an effort to be kind and show them gratitude.
Source: The Orlando Sentinel
Hi, I'm Erica, and I write about all things Disney. Before working for The DIS, I was a theme park performer at SeaWorld, but I also performed at Disney. I have such an immense love for theme parks to the point I studied them in college.