It may be a ‘small world’ but for some Disney employees, paychecks just got a little bigger. Four unions that represent nearly 10,000 theme-park workers in California just voted in favor of a new three-year contract. As of January 2019, the starting salary for employees will be $15 an hour, with an immediate increase from $11 to $13.25, according to the Los Angeles Times. Pay rates will increase again in 2020 to $15.45 an hour.
Employees already receiving higher salaries, such as truck drivers, will also see a small increase in wages. Those earning $20 an hour will receive an immediate bump of 60 cents an hour and an additional 75 cents in January. By June 2020, their hourly wages will be $21.99. Disney employees will also receive a retroactive pay increase of either 3% or 50 cents an hour, whichever is greater, on wages going back to June 17, 2018. Those benefiting from these increases include ticket takers, custodians, attraction operators, and food service workers.
The agreement comes after workers announced a protest against unfair wages. The multi-day demonstration was scheduled for earlier this week but was canceled after a prospective agreement was reached by Monday. Unions representing workers in Orlando, Florida, will resume talks regarding wages in August after rejecting a proposal to raise the starting salary to $15 an hour.
Despite the good news for some Disney employees, members of the two largest unions at the park, which represent food service and hotel workers, were not happy. “We are the single largest union at Disneyland and we are not included in this contract,” Christopher Duarte, the president of Workers United Local 50, which represents food service workers, told the Guardian. “This is progress, but it can’t be the end result. It’s not the solution to our problems.”
The several thousand non-union workers at Disney were not included either. Disneyland, which employs roughly 30,000 people, will raise wages for approximately 8,600 workers.
“If you’re going to take money from the city and tax dollars, you should offer good jobs,” Duarte said. “What today’s wage deal shows is that Disney can do better. They have the economic strength to take care of their ‘cast members’ and pay them more.”
A union-sponsored study published earlier this year revealed that real wages, which are wages related to purchasing power rather than actual money received, had decreased by 15% since 2000. Nearly three-quarters of the resort workers said they could not cover basic living expenses and 11% stated they had been homeless at some point in the past two years.
“Disneyland Resort has created 10,000 new jobs in the last decade—and that's just the beginning," said Josh D'Amaro, president, Disneyland Resort, after the announcement. "Today's investment in our cast — along with world-class training and development opportunities for both full- and part-time cast members — confirms that working at the Disneyland Resort is not only a good opportunity today, but a pathway to growth opportunities and career advancement tomorrow."