Mickey Mouse Is Gearing up to Unionize

in Disneyland Resort

Mickey Mouse with Disneyland cast members in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland Park.

Credit: Inside The Magic

You heard that right, folks; Mickey Mouse is gearing up to unionize with all his friends.

Disney characters, including Goofy, Minnie Mouse, Mickey Mouse, and Donald Duck with Annual Passholders cards in their hands inside of Disney World.
Credit: Inside The Magic

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Mickey Mouse and Friends to Unionize at Disneyland Resort

Inside The Magic reported on the unionization of over 1,000 Disneyland Resort cast members, specifically the costume department and others who bring delight and joy to many people at Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. However, the one thing that was not focused on was that this unionization means Mickey and his friends will join the cast members as they attempt to get better and fairer work environments at this Disney Resort.

Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Cinderella are considering unionization. While most of the over 35,000 employees at the Disneyland Resort in Southern California are already represented by labor unions, approximately 1,700 performers in parades, character roles, and supporting roles currently lack union representation. Union membership has experienced a gradual decline in the United States over the past few decades. However, there has been a noticeable increase in public support for labor organizations in recent years, particularly in light of prominent contract negotiations involving Hollywood studios and Las Vegas hotels.

The National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency tasked with safeguarding workers’ rights to organize, recorded over 2,500 filings for union representation during the 2023 fiscal year, marking the highest number in eight years. Disney operates two theme parks—Disneyland and Disney California Adventure—and a retail and entertainment precinct, Downtown Disney, in Anaheim, California. Disneyland, the company’s oldest park, was the second-most visited theme park globally in 2022, welcoming 16.8 million visitors, according to a Themed Entertainment Association and AECOM report.

Mickey Mouse waving his hand in the air outside of EPCOT during the International Flower & Garden Festival in Disney World.
Credit: Inside The Magic

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Efforts to establish a labor union have commenced, with union authorization cards distributed last week to facilitate the formation of a labor union under the Actors’ Equity Association, which traditionally represents actors and stage managers.

Organizers informed The Associated Press that the group already represents theatrical performers at Walt Disney Co.’s Florida theme parks. Although Actors’ Equity officials did not disclose the number of returned cards, they expressed optimism about securing authorization from over half of the performers.

This threshold would enable them to request Disney’s voluntary recognition of the union, bypassing the necessity for a vote administered by the National Labor Relations Board. The process is anticipated to unfold over several weeks.

Mickey Mouse Disney100 statue in Disneyland
Credit: Darin Munnell (@BigD923)

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Disneyland officials have emphasized their belief in providing cast members with the opportunity for a confidential vote. Those advocating for the formation of the union, referred to as “Magic United,” aim to address various concerns, including safety issues related to costuming, such as maintaining cleanliness and utilizing appropriate fabrics for activities involving high-intensity dancing. Additionally, they are advocating for more consistent scheduling.

The group’s organization initially stemmed from health and safety concerns that emerged when the park resumed close interactions between visitors and characters following the pandemic shutdown, as mentioned by Shindle. Some performers have expressed apprehensions about being required to wear tights and makeup that do not match their skin tones, as well as concerns about inconsistent staffing practices and equitable compensation. Despite these challenges, union officials note that performers take pride in their roles at the parks, contributing uniquely to creating the Disney experience.

The endeavor to organize performers within California’s character and parade departments marks a significant development over 40 years after a similar effort took place at Disney World in Florida during the early 1980s. During that period, those portraying iconic characters like Mickey, Goofy, and Donald Duck were organized by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a union primarily representing transportation workers.

At the time of the Florida organization, performers raised concerns about various issues, including the cleanliness of costumes and instances of mistreatment from guests. For example, they reported incidents of children kicking the shins of Disney villains like Captain Hook, as well as instances of guests grabbing the chests of performers portraying Mickey Mouse in attempts to discern their gender. On the flip side, Steamboat Willie, one of Mickey’s iconic characters, is now in the public domain, and the entertainment industry is wasting zero time in putting out content featuring the popular black and white mouse.

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