Disney Cast Members Denied Raises for Five Years as Cost of Living Skyrockets

in Disneyland Resort

Disney cast members posing in a frame that reads "we are the magic"

Credit: Disney

13,000 Disney cast members are engaged in ongoing union negotiations with Disneyland Resort. Their contract expires in weeks, but the Southern California Disney park allegedly refuses to negotiate a wage increase or better working conditions.

Disney cast members increasingly demand better pay as living costs skyrocket near Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. Days ago, the federal government officially recognized a character performers’ union at Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. Actors’ Equity Association now represents the entertainment cast members but hasn’t begun negotiations with Disney.

A group of eight actors in early 20th-century themed park employee costumes, smiling and posing in front of a themed building facade.
Credit: Disney

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Disney Workers Rising, a union of 13,000 Disneyland Resort cast members, met with The Walt Disney Company on Tuesday. These bargaining sessions are critical, as the parties have just weeks to come to an agreement before their current contract expires. Failure to sign a new one could lead to a strike.

According to the official Disney Workers Rising Instagram, Disneyland Resort didn’t respond well to cast members’ demands for higher pay and better benefits. During an earlier bargaining session on May 24, The Mouse offered just a 25-cent raise for cast members who’ve worked for Disneyland Resort for over 20 years.

A person wearing a green shirt is holding a camera with a flash in front of their face, taking a picture. Behind them is a Disney PhotoPass sign on a building. The scene appears to be taken at a Disney theme park.
Credit: Disney

“What’s even more insulting is that they want to lock us into a five year contract without any opportunity to bargain for wage increases or better working conditions,” Disney Workers Rising wrote. “Think about the last five years, where we have dealt with a pandemic and years of record inflation.”

Dear Disney cast member,

We are less than one month until the Disneyland contract is set to expire, and we spent the day meeting with Disney on a contract that provides you the dignity and respect you deserve. Today, with only three bargaining dates left until contract expiration, the company finally handed us their initial wage offer. This insulting offer fails to address our concerns and deliver us the wages we deserve as the magic makers for the resort.

Under the company’s wage proposal:

Cast members would receive on average less than a dollar per year increase for five years

Our loyalty and longevity would be rewarded with only a 25 cent increase only for those who have worked for Disney for 20 years or more

They are unwilling to increase any premiums

Their wage proposal also tries to take credit for Disney resort workers’ fight for Measure L, which Disney proceeded to fight tooth and nail for years. They sat across from us at the bargaining table and said to our faces today that cast members would receive up to a 40% increase in wages over five years, but the truth behind their words is that we would receive less than 3% over Measure L’s living wage rate.

We made it very clear – we will not accept inadequate increases when the cost of our groceries, our gas, our rent, and our childcare has increased dramatically since our last contract. So has Disney’s revenue only because of our hard work at the theme parks. They’re even planning a $1.9 billion expansion project for Disneyland.

These proposed increases come nowhere near what we need to live in Southern California and raise a family.

What’s even more insulting is that they want to lock us into a five year contract without any opportunity to bargain for wage increases or better working conditions. Think about the last five years, where we have dealt with a pandemic and years of record inflation.

Image Description: A social media post from @disneyworkersrising announces an update from the bargaining committee. The image includes a large group of Disney cast members wearing matching shirts, standing and kneeling, smiling toward the camera. The text on the left side reads "UPDATE FROM YOUR BARGAINING COMMITTEE." The accompanying caption details the negotiation status of the Disney contract, emphasizing the workers
Credit: Disney Workers Rising.

The union refuses to allow Disneyland Resort to hold cast members hostage under a five-year contract. As The Walt Disney Company invests billions in DisneylandForward, its most significant expansion in decades, unionized employees want a piece of the profits.

A man wearing a mask reviews a menu outside a charming eatery with a rustic ambiance in Disney World, captured on a sunny day.
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

During Tuesday’s bargaining session, Disney Workers Rising presented Disneyland Resort with a modified wage increase proposal. The union stated that The Walt Disney Company is “still very far apart” from its demands:

We just got finished with our latest bargaining session with Disney and we are still very far apart on the issues important to you. The Disney Workers Rising Bargaining Committee presented the company with a modified wage proposal that shows that we are working to get a deal that works for you and asked the company that they return next week on June 12 and 14 with a serious answer.

Continue to show your unity by wearing the union buttons, temporary tattoos and stickers. If you haven’t been personally told to not wear your union button on stage as part of your costume, do so until you’re specifically told to take it off.

With two bargaining sessions left next week, and our contract expiring 6/16, we’re preparing to ramp up our fight. Make sure to join us on Monday June 10, 2024 for two update webinars where you can learn more about what is happening at the bargaining table and our plans for a future action. Register for the calls here:

9AM June 10: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_CwjoVpovTHCmo1pP_hvqrg

7PM June 10: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_xRFi6rw5QDKvV0wGuWrfvw

If you have any questions about bargaining, please do not hesitate to reach out to your stewards, union representatives, or bargaining committee members.

In Solidarity,

Your Disney Workers Rising Bargaining Committee

An Instagram post from "disneyworkersrising" displays a banner that reads "UPDATE FROM YOUR BARGAINING COMMITTEE" with a group photo of Disney cast members in themed attire below it. The caption elaborates on recent bargaining sessions and upcoming events.
Credit: Disney Workers Rising

Disney Workers Rising and Disneyland Resort have two more bargaining sessions before their contract expires on June 16. The Walt Disney Company hasn’t publicly discussed union negotiations with Southern California cast members or the possibility of a strike.

Is Disneyland Resort negotiating fairly with unionized cast members? Share your take with Inside the Magic in the comments.

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