The National Labor Relations Board ruled Friday that Walt Disney World did not discriminate against Orlando union workers when the company chose to withhold $1,000 bonuses from those employees.
Back in January, Disney announced it would give $1,000 one-time cash bonuses to 125,000 domestic workers – an initiative that the theme park company attributed to GOP corporate tax cuts.
The six Orlando unions that make up the Service Trades Council Union filed an unfair labor complaint against Disney, alleging the company was retaliating against unionized cast members by refusing to give them the $1,000 bonus until they approved Disney's wage offer. Back in December, workers overwhelmingly voted to reject the contract offering a 6 to 10 percent increase over two years for non-tipped workers. Cast members making $10 per hour would only get a 50-cent raise in their hourly wages during the first year. Union leaders fighting for $15 per hour wage compared Disney's proposed pay raises to "poverty wages."
But NLRB Regional Director David Cohen dismissed the unions' complaint on Friday, arguing that there was "no evidence" to show Disney's decision to bargain with STCU over the bonuses was motivated by "anti-union animus."
"It appears that the employer is packing its bonus and wage rate proposals together in an effort to induce STCU to accept the previously rejected wage rate proposal," Cohen wrote. "This conduct appears to be permissible in the circumstances of this case."
Eric Clinton, president of UNITE HERE Local 362, says the organization is disappointed and "strongly disagrees" with Cohen's decision. The unions have until June 14 to appeal the ruling.
"I think he's wrong," Clinton says. "We have every plan to appeal it to the general counsel in Washington D.C."
Clinton adds that the unions will began bargaining talks again with Disney on June 8. In May, the company finally offered workers a path to a $15 hourly wage by October 2021 that included the payment of the $1,000 bonus. The offer, though, also asked for key concessions from workers on benefits regarding overtime, holiday pay, grievance procedures and scheduling.
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