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Disney World unions launch website profiling employees

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Published: April 12, 2007 at 3:04 PM

A coalition of unions representing almost 30,000 workers at Walt Disney World has launched a website in an effort to draw public attention to those workers.

WeAreDisney.info offers personal stories from cast members as well as data about wages, benefits and other issues the unions see as important in ongoing negotiations with Disney.

From the press release:

WeAreDisney.info takes you behind the scenes to meet those who work so hard to make millions of visitors' dreams come true every year. Featuring profiles of Disney workers, also known as Cast Members, the site details their struggles to support themselves and their families.

The site also features the recently released study, "Walt Disney World's Hidden Costs: The Impact of Disney's Wage Structure on the Greater Orlando Area." The study shows that deteriorating wages at Walt Disney World led to an economic loss of $23.4 million to the greater Orlando economy in 2006.

The main contract, covering about 21,000 Disney cast members, expires April 28.

* * *
My $.02: I am a former Walt Disney World cast member and a progressive who thinks that union representation is essential in building and maintaining a strong middle class in society. I also believe that paying your employees a wage that allows them to support themselves and at least one dependent is key in not only attracting highly qualified employees, but also reducing employee turnover, minimizing training costs and improving customer experience.

Also, Econ 101 says that a company's labor costs have next to zilch effect on consumer prices. *Those* are determined by what the market will bear. If a company's raking it in at the box office, union representation's the best way to ensure that a bigger chunk of the revenue goes to the workers, and not to executives.

A bone to the other side: Smart union leaders negotiate over money and benefits. That's it. Don't try to usurp management's job. Let management be flexible about job definitions, assignments and duties, in exchange for more cash.

Okay, that was more than two cents' worth. But I wanted to get it out there to pre-empt any knee-jerk, dittohead responses bashing unions.

Readers' Opinions

From Melissa Faulkner on April 13, 2007 at 12:24 PM
I'll probably be slashed for this but I have to say it. Their problems with their employer is not any different than others. My husband works in education. We pay right at $200/month for our insurance, his + me, no kids. We pay right at $100/month for persriptions and that is with perscription coverage. 2 bedroom apartments in our neck of the woods cost about $900/month. My dad is a truck driver. His and my mothers insurance cost is $250/month and they pay close to $200/month for perscriptions and they to have coverage. Disney employees are in about the same shape as the rest of us. You would think my husband working for a county school system as a Technology Specialist, he would make much more than he does. Its not just Disney employees that is feeling the hurt especially with health care cost. We have an excellent insurance company but we pay a lot for it per month not counting what the county chucks in. I know many will not agree with me on this, but we are all pretty much in the same boat with the cost of living, health care, insurance cost, housing, ect.
From Deidre Dennis on April 13, 2007 at 6:04 PM
I COMPLETELY agree with your comments, Melissa. My husband works for the Federal Government and for himself, me and our son, he probably pays close to $400 a month to carry us all. It was even more for me to carry all of us on my job's insurance. It is horrible for a lot of people out there, but like car insurance, it's something you can't afford to NOT have.
From Cherry Negra on April 14, 2007 at 9:53 PM
The point isn't that it's bad for everyone thus we all have to suffer. The point is that these Cast Members are trying to raise awareness of their working conditions at Disney World by sharing their experiences with the general public and more importantly with paying guests. They aren't trying to address the general decline of health benefits across the country, just at Disney. That doesn't mean they don't deserve your respect and support just because it doesn't affect you individually.

This whole, well it sucks to be me so it should suck to be you mentality by the general public is exactly the kind of attitude that corporations count on when their employees dare to have the audacity to ask for living wages or God forbid affordable health care.

From Adam Stryker on April 16, 2007 at 7:34 AM
Unfortunately, we have allowed our leaders today in government and in business to use the monikers of "free enterprise" and "free market" to justify their greed. CEOs and business owners forget where they came from and disregard the middle class. If we do not speak up for the middle class, the US is no different than any other third world country. Greedy CEOs have no excuse in making 25 times what the average management make. Do they realize they would not be able to do it without their teams of management and labor?
"For the love of money, is the root of all evil!"
From Jayson Myers on April 16, 2007 at 8:44 AM
This thread really needs to be closed. If this becomes a "commie" site where we have to put this "" around free economy, I'll move on. Shouldn't be any politics here! Now who wants to ride some Spider-man??? :)
From Deidre Dennis on April 16, 2007 at 12:36 PM
I love it, Jayson! Originally I was going to comment back to Cherry but decided that this really isn't the reason why I come to this site. It's more about what parks where are doing what and where can my family and I go next, so I just disregarded it. Instead I'm going to focus on counting down the days (57) until our next vacation. YIIPPEE.
From John Jordan on April 16, 2007 at 1:26 PM
Without a big debate, I would like to comment on this. I was an airline employee for 18years I have alot of experience with jobs being outsourced and look what that has done to that industry. Fact- What is happening at Disney is that jobs are slowly being outsourced and longer timed employees are being forced out. While I dont like to get involved with others labor negotiations, I take exception to Disney.

We all pay good sums of money to go to Disney parks. We expect Disney, not an outfit that is not Disney cast members. Contracting out work can affect more than quality, it can also affect personal safety. These contracted out employees may not have the same backround checks or quality control as Disney. Lets keep Disney quality. Disney make huge profits off the parks, I don't mind that, it is the most value for your dollar for any vacation. However, the quality will not last, and the "magic" will not be there. Long time patrons are noticing.

From Cherry Negra on April 16, 2007 at 6:25 PM
Jayson, since when has asking for living wages or affordable health care been a "Commie" issue? These are issues that affect all kinds of people from all socio-economic classes.

Look, the fact of the matter is this. I want Disney to provide higher than living wages. I want Disney to provide affordable health care and to stop outsourcing. I want Disney to treat its employees better. Why? Because it will attract a higher caliber of person who will be motivated to provide the kind of "magic" that people love Disney for. They will have more of an investment in the company because they realize the company cares about its employees. Is it any wonder that Disney has been having problems filling cast member positions?

With the ever rising costs of park tickets and Disney rolling in the profits, I see nothing wrong with reinvesting some of that windfall back into the Disney work force. You know. The people you come into contact with on a daily basis when at the parks. You know. The people who are there to ensure the attractions run smoothly and safely and that your room is properly cleaned and that deal with whatever cranky guests throw at them with a smile and who, God bless 'em, entertain guests while wearing some awful, heavy, smelly, hot costume so people can get their bit of "magic."

The amazing thing to me is that the people who cry foul whenever cast members ask to have their reasonable needs addressed are also the same people who complain that the cast members aren't what they used to be.

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