On Wednesday night, Walt Disney World union members rejected a new contract giving them at least a 50 cent per hour raise. They are arguing the raise should have been greater.
Of the nearly 10,000 votes cast, about 93% were to turn down the proposed contract. This was the highest turnout in the history of labor votes for the Service Trades Council Union, the coalition of six unions that represents about 36,000 Disney employees, officials said.
A Disney spokeswoman issued a statement stating, “We are disappointed that the union rejected our fair and reasonable offer of a 6 to 10 percent wage increase over the next two years and we will continue to work with the union on negotiations.”
The proposed deal would have given both full- and part-time employees of Disney a 3%, or $0.50 – whichever was higher – raise that would be retroactive to September 24th. They would again get the same raise in September of 2018. Tipped employees were not eligible for the salary increase as proposed.
Disney also offered a $200, one-time, bonus this year for full-time employees and those who receive tips.
Krystle Karnofsky, who is paid $10 hour to work at Animal Kingdom’s Flight of Passage ride, said she often has to ask her grandparents for help to cover her portion of the rent for the apartment she shares with two roommates. “We deserve more than 50 cents,” she said. “We’re not going to settle.”
Wages have been a discussion between Disney and the union since this summer. At Disney’s request a federal mediator was brought in after the initial session did not lead to a resolution.
There have been some union leaders who are pushing for an eventual increase of the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Those leaders have criticized Disney, and the $1.6 billion its theme-park division brought in the last financial quarter, for not being more generous – especially with some employees living in poverty. Disney replied by saying it was already paying workers close to $2 more than Florida’s minimum wage plus offering a salary increase in its offer that was voted down this week.
The way Disney pays its employees is monitored closely as there is often a ripple effect in Central Florida. Back in 2014, Disney and the unions agreed to a minimum wage increase to $10 starting in 2016 and the following year Universal Orlando Resort — which is not unionized — also announced they would be implementing the same raise in 2016.
Theme park employees can be hard to find. Especially with the unemployment rate falling to 3.2% in the Orlando area. Disney is currently offering signing bonuses for certain groups of employees this year.
After the vote earlier this week, union leaders plan to regroup in February of 2018.
Source: The Orlando Sentinel
Photo Credit: Disney
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