Orlando unions reach agreement with Disney for $15 by 2021


  • Photo via Disney
After nine months of negotiations, six Orlando labor unions say they have reached a "historic" agreement with Walt Disney World to raise starting pay from $10 to $15 by October 2021.

The Service Trades Council Union, which represent 38,000 employees among its six unions, announced early Saturday morning that the new four-year contract agreement makes "no major concessions" to the theme park company regarding union rights at work. The UNITE HERE unions announced online that Disney will also give unionized workers the $1,000 bonus previously denied to employees under STCU until a contract was approved. In May, Disney proposed a contract that would get theme park workers to a $15 hourly wage, but it came at the cost of key union protections and benefits.

"These Union raises will be life-changing for the women and men who welcome millions of tourists to Walt Disney World," said Matt Hollis, president of the STCU, in a statement. "Now money tourists spend here in Central Florida will stay here, pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into local small businesses."

In a statement, Disney called the tentative agreement the "largest proposal ever offered by Walt Disney World Resort with significant pay raises for current, non-tipped cast members." Disney adds that the offer also includes  retroactive pay of 50 cents an hour or 3 percent for all hours worked back to Sept. 24, 2017.

"We are thrilled our cast members will have the chance to vote on what is one of the highest entry-level service wages in the country," said Robbin Almand, vice president of labor relations for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "This represents a 50 percent bump in pay bringing starting wages to $15 an hour by 2021."

The labor unions estimate the new contract will bring a $1 billion influx of additional wages into the Central Florida economy over four years as other local theme parks and businesses follow Disney's lead to stay competitive in the region's tourism market.

"These union raises at Disney will benefit everyone in Central Florida," said Jeremy Haicken, STCU's secretary treasurer, in a statement. "Disney did the right thing by raising wages. Living wages mean cast members will spend more locally on school supplies and clothes for their kids, drive more dependable cars and go out to eat in local restaurants. These Union raises are for everyone!"

If approved by union members, the new contract would raise the minimum wage at Disney to $11 by December 2018, $12 by March 2019 and $13 by September 2019. Wages will then go up in yearly increments to $14 in October 2020 and finally $15 in October 2021. Workers with the six unions will vote on the new agreement Sept. 5 and 6.

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