Wall Street Times

Disney World offers union new contract, but leaders want to turn it down

Disney World
Image Commercially Licensed from: Unsplash

Disney World: The Disney magic is brought to life through the colossal Disney World network of amusement parks.

With four theme parks, two water parks, several hotels, and a diverse variety of dining and entertainment choices, it truly is a world unto itself.

Every inch of Disney World is brimming with wonder and magic that entices visitors of all ages, from the famous Cinderella’s Castle to the exciting roller coasters.

However, the workforce is rumbling in the sidelines as workers evaluate a new contract offer.

What’s happening?

32,000 Disney World employees will vote on a management contract offer this Thursday and Friday.

The workers include:

  • Performers
  • Restaurant and shop workers
  • Bus, tram, and monorail drivers
  • Front desk workers
  • Hotel housekeepers

Full-time contract employees make up roughly 40% of Disney World’s workforce.

Approximately 75,000 cast members, including full-time, part-time, hourly, and salaried employees, now work by the park.

At Disney World, the employment rates are comparable to those preceding the Covid-19 pandemic.

Salary change

Disney World is offering a five-year pay increase that would boost employees’ yearly salary by at least $1 per hour.

Employee pay will therefore receive $20 per hour by 2026.

The company added that 46% of the cast members will get rises of more than $1/hour during the first year of the agreement.

The five-year contract’s annual increase guarantee made the offer more alluring, according to Disney spokesman Andrea Finger.

According to her, the majority of employees would receive overall pay raises ranging from 33% to 46%.

Additionally, the new offer pays housekeepers and bus drivers more than $20 per hour on the spot.

On the other hand, depending on their position, culinary staff employees usually start at $20 to $25 per hour.

On October 1, employees will start getting a pay raise that is comparable to the day the most recent contract expired.

It would offer one-time, pre-tax incentives of more than $700 to full-time workers.

Read also: An end to pay shortage will fix labor shortage

Union stance

Leaders of the union recommended its members turn down the raises, despite how appealing it may seem.

The union asserts that because Disney presented their proposition as good as they could, members were compelled to cast a vote.

Since there is a preliminary agreement and offers are usually submitted to a vote by rank-and-file union members, this is not the case.

But for now, every sign points to the offer being turned down.

The agreement’s six union locals demand that its members, who they claim already earn 75% of the $15 minimum hourly wage, receive an immediate 20% raise ($3 per hour), with an additional $ 1 hour increase each succeeding year.

Matt Hollis is the president of the Service Trades Council Union, a coalition of six union locals that negotiate with management.

“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

Disney World employee Jonathan Pulliam began working there in 2018.

In addition to villains and Star Wars characters, he has dressed up as many different Disney animated characters.

Pulliam admits that he can no longer sustain himself on his $15.85 per hour salary, which equals to more than $550 per week, despite his love for the work.

“Me loving it, that’s not enough to pay the bills,” he said.

According to Realtor.com, apartment rent frequently exceeds $1,800 per month.

Jonathan Pulliam would not have been able to make ends meet if he had not been staying with his sister.

“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.”

When Jonathan Pulliam saw that former Disney executives were leaving the firm with sizable incentive packages, he shared the confusion of others.


The new union contract has been the subject of discussions since August.

Despite popular belief that the union members will reject the offer, no date has been set for the strike deadline or the strike authorization vote.

The union leadership is certain that Disney will make a better offer if union members reject the current one.

The results of contract elections typically result in further rounds of negotiations, according to Disney, who also suggested that additional conversations aren’t entirely out of the question.

“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 stressed that workers who earn raises of more than $1 an hour work in positions for which the company has a difficult time finding and keeping workers.