Disneyland Cast Members Vote To Join Labor Union

By U Cast Studios
May 20, 2024

Disneyland Cast Members Vote To Join Labor Union
Image Courtesy Of Avel Chuklanov On Unsplash

A group of cast members at Disneyland, comprising of both those acting as characters in costume and those working at the daily parades, voted by a wide margin to join a union during the weekend, becoming one of the last groups of employees at the park to join a labor union.

This article was written by Evan Symon and originally published by California Globe.

For decades, different employee groups have slowly joined unions at the multiple Disney parks across the U.S. While Walt Disney largely opposed unions, in more recent decades the company has been more amendable for park employees to join unions to keep the best talent available. In a notable case, pyrotechnic workers joined a union and were allowed to as Disney did not want to have to rely on non-professionals running their nightly fireworks shows. However, until Saturday, cast members playing characters in costumes and parade workers held out, despite their colleagues at Disney World in Florida joining the Actors’ Equity Association union years before.

Many recent factors finally began tipping their hand towards joining a union. Parade and character actors were paid, until January, $20 an hour. This was bumped up to $24.15 an hour this year, but the actors have insisted that more is needed due to many of them having long commute times and high housing costs. Job uncertainty, fueled by Disney parks in California being closed for about a year because of Governor Gavin Newsom’s  COVID-19 business lockdown orders, and massive layoffs by the company in recent years, have also played a factor for wanting more job protections – as has the Walt Disney Company as a whole losing massive amounts of money in recent years because of the writers and actors strikes delaying projects and films massively underperforming at the box office.

Disney workers vote to join union

Faced with these concerns, character cast members and parade workers began working towards joining a union in recent years. Earlier this year, both groups filled out Actors’ Equity Association union cards under the “Magic United”. This led to a union vote on Saturday, where workers voted 78.7% (953 votes) in favor and 21.3% (258 votes) against joining a union, winning out.

“They say that Disneyland is ‘the place where dreams come true,’ and for the Disney Cast Members who have worked to organize a union, their dream came true today,” said Actors’ Equity Association President Kate Shindle in a statement on Sunday.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is now set to certify the results within a week. Should it be certified, the union has said that they will work on issues such as wages, health and safety, benefits and job security before meeting with Disney itself later this year to come to a new agreement.

While nearly 4 out of 5 employees voted in favor of the union, over 21% voted no. They worry that with all the added costs and pay associated with the union, many could be priced out as a result, with other cast members from other areas possibly taking over some duties.

“A lot of us thought that pay and the perks had already been fair enough,” said James, a cast member at the park in Anaheim, to the Globe on Monday. “California isn’t a right to work state unfortunately, so I kind of have to join and pay dues. Well, the thinking of many of us is that they can make us join, but they can’t make us care about the union. My loyalty is to Disney, not the union. A lot of us even said if there is ever a strike, we are crossing the line. More people than you think think like that too.”

The NLRB is expected to certify the employees joining the union sometime in the next week.

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