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Disney rejects magistrate’s decision in labor dispute with firefighters’ union

Disney rejects magistrate's decision in labor dispute with firefighters' union fire-department

Contract negotiations between Disney and the Reedy Creek firefighters union have hit yet another snag, as Disney rejects the decision put forth by a magistrate.



The firefighters have been working without a contract for two years, unable to come to an agreement with Disney. Two weeks ago, a special magistrate, James D. Stokes, gave his ruling over the labor dispute. Tim Stromsnes, president of the Reedy Creek Professional Firefighters said, “Before we even met to present our case to the magistrate at the hearing, we said that we would accept his decision no matter what. We respected the process, so why can’t the district?”

The union was asking for the employee and employer to share the cost of health insurance increases, that health screenings include tests for cancer, and that a cost of living adjustment be made to the pay plans (something that hasn’t been done since 2008).



The magistrate sided with the firefighters, but Disney rejected the decision, returning a 16-page letter explaining why. Some of the reasoning included was “the decision took too long to render, that the district is a good place to work, and that the magistrate did not listen to their evidence.”

Disney’s attorney’s stated, “It is clear from his Recommendation that the Special Magistrate applied his own mistaken views of the bargaining process…”, that his “views run afoul of the Florida Administration Code”, and that he has “notions of industrial justice.”

The company said the evidence they presented “is consistent with a workforce who believes Emergency Service personnel are well compensated and appreciate their work environment.”



Stromsnes replies, “Their rejection is offensive not only to us and the process, but also the magistrate. We both had the opportunity to present our case to an impartial person. We both reviewed the qualifications of a list of magistrates and we both picked out Mr. Stokes. And because he didn’t side with the district, he must be some zealot out for industrial justice? Whatever that means. It doesn’t even occur to them that the reason they lost was because they simply had bad evidence.”

He added, “Most bullies think they are wonderful and that they really are not doing harm to their victims. But I don’t know of anyone who would be happy with an employer who withholds pay for almost two years, disregards the health and safety norms of their industry, and passes on the bulk of insurance premium increases to their employees.”



It was just announced that insurance costs will be going up almost 40% for the firefighters.

Stromsnes says the firefighters will consider other options, but the next step is to protest on November 16 at the Disney Springs grand re-opening.



He said, “In 2013, Disney earned $5.7 billion in profit. They are the only private company in American that has their own public government. Through the district they get out of paying sales tax on materials, finance their projects with tax free bonds, and avoid paying property taxes on many of their properties. And they still feel the need to find their projects off the backs of their employees.”

A $95 million dollar third Disney Springs parking garage construction project was just announced last month. Stromsnes said, “The cost of that garage would fund the increases in our contract for the next 70 years. But we aren’t the only ones taking a hit. It will be a ‘public’ garage giving it tax immunity while depriving the surrounding communities of millions of dollars of revenue. No other business gets a deal like that.”

Photo credit: Orlando Sentinel

Leah grew up in a little farming town in Illinois, right on the Mississippi River. Her Chicago-born husband, David, left the city for her, and they're now raising their three children (Jacob, Jonah and Lydia) just 12 miles from her hometown. As the Senior Editor of the DIS (wdwinfo.com), Leah spends a lot of time writing about, reading about, and discussing Disney. So, it should come as no surprise that one of her family's favorite ways to spend time is going to Walt Disney World and traveling on Disney Cruise Line. She also enjoys shopping, watching movies with her husband and doing crafts with and for her kids.




















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