BREAKING: Disney and Labor Unions Reach Agreement
Today is a good day for Disney cast members, Disney executives, and Disney fans alike.
After a contentious set of negotiations regarding a new labor agreement, the two parties finally reached an agreement.
Here’s what just happened, and what it means for Disney.
About the Disney/Cast Member Stalemate
In 2018, Bob Iger attempted to resolve Disney’s growing labor crisis by forging long-term contracts with labor unions at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
As I reported at the time, Walt Disney World workers agreed to a structured wage increase over time. By 2021, Disney promised to pay its union members $15 per hour.
The Orlando Sentinel headline described the deal as “historic” at the time. And it was because cast members gained a rare degree of financial certainty.
All union members knew the base pay for the following four years and could make career decisions based on that information.
Disney workers even gained $1,000 bonuses that had previously been held up by the protracted debate. For a time, everyone was happy.
Alas, everything went sideways during the pandemic.
The impact of COVID-19 led to short-term job losses when Disney performed layoffs at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
We knew at the time that staffing issues were hurting Disney, which created a crisis. The problem was even worse on the worker side.
Inflation soared during the pandemic due to supply chain issues and other factors. Inflation has increased by at least 6.2 percent for three straight years.
In short, $15 per hour sounded MUCH better in 2018 than it proved to be in 2023.
About the 2023 Negotiations
Union leaders have known this and negotiated accordingly.
MickeyBlog reported in November that union officials sought a pay increase of $3 per hour.
Disney, which was already facing lingering financial struggles from the pandemic, took a hard line.
In early February, the Service Trades Council Union, a group representing at least 32,000 cast members, soundly rejected Disney’s proposal.
The vote was 96 percent (!) against Disney’s offer. Folks, you can’t get 96 percent of people to agree that French fries are tasty these days.
This sort of near-universal consent delivered a message. Disney and its loyal workers reached a stalemate and ended negotiations for a while.
Thankfully, the two parties eventually returned to the bargaining table. Now, I’m thrilled beyond words to report an agreement.
The unions had previously voted against an offer of a $1 per hour base wage increase to make the starter pay $16 per hour.
Then, Disney would offer Walt Disney World union members a gradual pay increase to $20 within five years.
Disney and Cast Members Agree to Terms
The updated agreement will provide all union members with a base salary of $18 per hour by the end of 2023.
That total represents the $3 per hour increase cast members had requested last November.
In addition, Disney will provide retroactive back pay to all Cast Members, and contracts will be eligible for a $5.50 minimum increase.
Please note that while the unions have provided this information on their Facebook page, it’s technically unofficial as of now.
The union members will vote on the new agreement in a matter of days.
Once everyone agrees, Walt Disney World will once again have labor peace for a few years.
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