Disney Faces Potential Largest Strike of the Year as California Workers Vote on Walkout

By Madz Dizon

Jul 09, 2024 07:59 PM EDT

Disney Faces Potential Largest Strike of the Year as California Workers Vote on Walkout
People walk toward an entrance to Disneyland on April 24, 2023 in Anaheim, California. Disney will lay off several thousand workers this week amid an overall push by the media giant to cut 7,000 total jobs in an effort to save $5.5 billion in costs.
(Photo : Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Disney may be on the brink of a major challenge as thousands of theme park and hotel workers in California consider the possibility of staging a walkout, potentially leading to the largest strike in the US this year.

Disneyland Workers Plan Massive Strike

Next week, three trade unions representing 14,000 employees at Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, Downtown Disney, and the Disney hotels will be holding a vote on whether to go on strike. This comes as negotiations for a new union contract are ongoing.

Union leaders have made a strong statement, accusing Disney of engaging in actions that they deem as unlawful discipline, intimidation, and surveillance of union members. 

According to Bloomberg, negotiations for a new contract commenced in April. The unions lodged complaints of unfair labor practices regarding the prohibition of cast members from wearing union buttons while on duty.

According to a survey conducted earlier this year, a significant number of Disney workers faced challenges such as food insecurity, rent burden, and insufficient sick leave. The unions highlighted these findings to shed light on the difficulties faced by a considerable portion of the workforce.

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Unions Claim Unlawful Work Condition

Workers are advocating for substantial wage hikes. According to the living wage law in Anaheim, the current minimum wage is $19.90 an hour. This increase in wages has benefited workers, who previously earned $18 an hour under the expired contract.

A group of four unions claim that they have been subjected to unlawful intimidation, surveillance, and disciplinary threats by the entertainment company, as they reported to the National Labor Relations Board.

The July 19 vote is set to take place only a few months after Disney parade performers successfully joined the Actors' Equity Association in May, which was described by a spokesperson as a remarkable achievement. The majority of Disneyland employees, such as cashiers and ride operators, were already part of a union, according to The Daily Beast.

In September 1984, Disneyland experienced a significant strike that was affectionately referred to by cast members as the "Friendliest Strike On Earth." The picket line lasted for a duration of 22 days, serving as a precursor to the implementation of a living-wage law of $15 an hour for all taxpayer-subsidized companies operating within the Anaheim resorts.

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