Disney Reacts to Mickey Mouse, Cinderella Unionization – What Happens Next?

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Image of a person dressed as Cinderella and a person suited as Mickey Mouse holding picket signs saying "unionize!" in front of the Disney company headquarters.

Credit: Inside The Magic

Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, and other performers and cast members at Disneyland have officially decided to union for better pay, and Disney has formally responded.

Graphic of a diverse group of people cheerfully holding a "Disneyland" sign and a megaphone, with mickey mouse and a "breaking news" alert over a world map backdrop of Disney cast members.
Credit: Inside The Magic

Disneyland Cast Members Unionize, Disney Now Has to Respond

In a significant development at Disneyland Resort, a “Magic United” movement within the entertainment division has achieved a breakthrough by establishing a union. This marks a departure from the traditional arrangement wherein Cast Members responsible for portraying Disney characters have operated without union representation since the resort’s inception in the 1950s.

The initiative signals a potential shift in the labor landscape at Disneyland, particularly for those involved in bringing beloved Disney characters to life. While other sectors within the resort have long been unionized, this development represents a milestone for Cast Members in the entertainment division.

The movement has gained traction with the support of the Actors’ Equity Association (Equity), a labor union representing actors and stage managers in the performing arts. Recent efforts led by Equity have culminated in filing an election petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to seek union recognition.

Mickey Mouse with Disney cast members in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland Park.
Credit: Inside The Magic

While this development currently pertains specifically to Disneyland Resort and its entertainment division, it has the potential to spark similar movements in other Disney theme parks, including those in Florida. However, as of now, the focus remains on the efforts within the Disneyland Disney park.

Establishing a union for Cast Members involved in character portrayal signifies a significant step forward in advocating for better pay and working conditions within the entertainment division of Disneyland Resort. As the movement progresses, stakeholders will closely watch for further developments and potential implications for the broader Disney theme park community.

Disneyland employees who portray many of the theme park’s cherished characters have taken steps to potentially join the Actors’ Equity Association, a national union representing live performers across various industries.

Disneyland cast members unionizing in front of the Sleeping Beauty castle inside Disneyland Park.
Credit: Inside The Magic

The move comes after the group announced a union organizing effort in February, a process that often faces challenges before reaching the stage of filing for a vote. However, on Wednesday, the union revealed that it had submitted cards signed by over two-thirds of the 1,700 employees, requesting the National Labor Relations Board to oversee an election.

President of Equity, Kate Shindle, highlighted the historical context, noting that character performers at Disneyland Resort have remained non-unionized since the park’s inception in the 1950s.

She emphasized the disparity as other workers in the park unionized over the years. The momentum for union organizing has surged, particularly following significant contract victories that resulted in substantial pay raises for union members, including those at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

The official Disney Magic United website logo with a brief description for Disneyland cast members
Credit: Magic United website

While more than 21,000 Disneyland “cast member” employees are represented by over a dozen unions, character performers have notably been excluded from union representation. This discrepancy contrasts with some other Disney theme parks, such as Disney World, where performers in similar roles are unionized.

Shindle emphasized the importance of collective bargaining for character performers and their colleagues, stressing the potential for improved working conditions and guest experiences at Disneyland through meaningful negotiations over wages and benefits.

Disney has yet to issue a formal comment on the filing. However, a company spokesperson previously supported cast members’ right to a confidential vote, respecting their choices regarding unionization efforts.

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